CHRONICLING ECU & C-USA SPORTS
from the 'ville
March 14, 2006
By Al Myatt
ECU scored a Big Break in
Whether it's modeling beachwear or trying to
make it to the next show, East Carolina women's golf coach Kim Lewellen is
getting significant exposure on the Golf Channel as one of the competitors
on "Big Break V: Hawaii."
women's golf coach Kim Lewellen is mum about the
outcome of her reality show excursion on The
The Golf Channel
The production, taped in Hawaii last October,
is golf's answer to the "Survivor" reality shows with cast members
eliminated weekly based on their responses to various golf challenges
devised for the program.
"There's a lot of pressure on each shot —
whether you're going to be on the show or not," said Lewellen, who has
played on the European and Futures tours. "I've never had that kind of
A fresh episode of the series airs tonight and
the last show is set for the second week in May. Lewellen won't say how long
she lasted or if she won. She hasn't even let her parents, Smith and Xandra
Byham of Raleigh, in on the final result.
The 34-year old former UNC-Chapel Hill
All-American admits to confiding a little more in her husband, John, an
Episcopal minister, but says even he doesn't know all the details. Among the
prizes for the program's winner are exemptions into selected LPGA Tour
events and a new car.
The show's competitors not only played
together but stayed together. A companion show, Big Break All Access, takes
viewers behind the scenes with the golfers.
"None of us knew who else was going to be on
the program until we got to Hawaii," Lewellen said. "The people on the Golf
Channel wanted that to be a surprise. I did know several of the girls
previously from the Futures Tour."
The program taped the golfers extensively on
and off the course.
"You were miked from the time you got up until
you went to bed," said the Lady Pirates coach. "It was very interesting, a
different experience, but by the third day, you forgot about it. It was old
Even though the players were trying to beat
each other, Lewellen said they got along well.
"By the time we left, it was like the
sisterhood of Big Break V," she said. "We relied on each other for support
and energy to keep going each day."
Lewellen had watched portions of previous Big
Break shows, III and IV, and had a girlfriend who encouraged her to go for
it. She sent in an application last summer and was invited to audition in
Orlando. She hit different shots for about 30 minutes in the audition and
was contacted about two weeks later. Then it was on to Hawaii.
She was hired by ECU AD Terry Holland in
January to replace Kevin Williams as women's golf coach. Williams coached
both the men's and women's programs at ECU before becoming head pro at
Walnut Creek in Goldsboro.
Lewellen said she advised Holland during the
interview process about her Big Break experience and that she might have
some tour opportunities — be it LPGA or Futures variety — in the summer.
Holland was fully supportive, she said.
"I follow Coach Holland's vision of having a
nationally-competitive program while achieving academically," Lewellen said.
"The women's golf team is outstanding academically."
The ECU women golfers recently were recognized
by the NCAA for their Academic Progress Rate and their performance on the
links has been worthy of respect as well.
The Lady Pirates began their spring season
under Lewellen by finishing second among 12 teams in the Papa Johns
Intercollegiate Tournament in Miami. ECU was eighth among 19 teams in an
event at Pinehurst going into the final round today.
"The team played real well this week and I'm
excited with the outcome," Lewellen said after the tournament in Miami, in
which the Pirates finished ahead of No. 12 Virginia. "Kevin (Williams) left
this program in great shape and we have the sky as the limit for what this
team can accomplish this season."
Williams helped the Pirates locate his
successor and Holland indicated that Lewellen's arrival was a big break for
"Kevin Williams has always done a terrific job
of recruiting men's and women's golfers, but helping us find Kim Lewellen
may be his best recruiting effort of all time," said Holland at the time her
hiring was announced on
www.ecupirates.com. "We believe this
is a hire that will have a lasting impact on our women's golf program and
our whole athletic department.
"Kim is everything we could hope for as our
women's golf coach — she is a terrific competitor and still plays at the
highest level. She has head coaching experience after coaching both the
women's and the men's programs at The Citadel, and as a former
student-athlete at the University of North Carolina, she represents the very
best of what intercollegiate athletics can and should be.
"We are very fortunate to have Kim and her
family as members of our community and we welcome them to ECU and
Lewellen, whose family includes sons Jack and
Simon, moved to Greenville from Wake Forest about three weeks ago. She has
been amazed at the local support for the ECU program. The Pirates practice
at Bradford Creek but also have cooperative agreements which allow them to
play at Greenville Country Club, Ironwood and Brook Valley.
"It's a wonderful situation," Lewellen said.
"The community is very supportive."
Big Break V is pretty special, too. Lewellen
and family are rapt viewers when each edition of the show comes on. She
doesn't know what will be aired from all the hours of tape shot in Hawaii.
The weather was superb with sunny skies and
temperatures in the 80's. One day, with a monsoon-like downpour, was the
"It's the best experience I've ever had in
golf," she said. "The Golf Channel treated us like divas."
For more on Lewellen's visit to the 50th
state, go to
www.thegolfchannel.com and click on Big
Break from the menu on the left side.
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