Sophomore Lila Iwanowski steps onto the golf course, takes a deep breath and swings. She is less than four months out of a wheelchair, but she still won first place in the women’s golf Cape Coast Conference.
“This is actually the first tournament I’ve won for [an] 18-hole [course],” she said. “It wasn’t my best game, but it was still really cool to win. I keep having to remind myself that winning CCC is a big accomplishment. It’s hard because it feels like I could have done better, but I’m still proud of myself for winning overall.”
The girls’ golf team achieved second place against 16 teams, with between three to five girls per team. To win overall, Iwanowski had to out-play every individual.
“This is the first time that I’ve coached an overall winner,” said girls’ golf coach Jenny Pazderak. “I started coaching for Lila in seventh grade when she arrived at West Shore, and she’s always worked really hard. Her drive to succeed is incredible, and it shows in the way she plays. She wants to be the best in everything that she does. She has the skill, and the mindset, and when those two things line up she’s basically unbeatable.”
Iwanowski was diagnosed with hip dysplasia, a condition which causes the hip to frequently and painfully dislocate, in December 2019. She went into surgery in February, and was unable to golf again until July of this year.
“My recovery was tough,” Iwanowski said. “Everybody knows about the time I spent in the wheelchair, and with the walker, but after that was tough. I did my own PT because of the pandemic, and it took me a really long time to get back to a full swing. That was super frustrating for me.”
In addition to golf, Iwanowski is also a black belt in Taekwondo and participates in HOSA (Future Health Professionals), drone team, is dual enrolled and maintains a 4.0 GPA.
“She’s absolutely incredible,” said sophomore Aidan Meyers. “She manages to do so much, and is still such an incredible friend and person. She’s so kind, and she doesn’t judge or make assumptions about people, she’s really understanding. I think it’s kind of unfair that anyone could be so talented and such a genuinely kind person all at once.”
“She’s a real team player, as well,” Pazderak said. “She’s always trying to lend a hand to her teammates, and she’s a really good leader. It’s never mean spirited, she just wants to see everyone around her do really well. I think that’s part of what makes her so special to this team.”
Meyers said he’s excited to see what she accomplishes next.
“I’m really proud of her,” he said. “I think her growth has been incredible, and it’s so inspiring to see someone like her do really well. She’s worked her way back up from being unable to walk, you know? She’s so humble about it, she always thinks she could have done better, but I really think she’s doing something special this season. I think it’s only a matter of time until she goes on to do even more spectacular things.”