Slain Iowa State golfer Celia Barquin Arozamena remembered as competitive, caring

Iowa State University

Slain Iowa State golfer Celia Barquin Arozamena remembered as competitive, caring

College

Slain Iowa State golfer Celia Barquin Arozamena remembered as competitive, caring

Celia Barquin Arozamena was a feisty competitor. She was thoughtful too. The kind of player who bought flowers for teammates on Valentine’s Day and left inspirational quotes on the bulletin board. Iowa State coach Christie Martens choked back tears on the phone as she talked about the special relationship Barquin Arozamena had with her own daughter, Norah.

There are no answers for times like this. Only questions, tears and cherished memories of time spent with a 22-year-old woman whose future was bright.

“The spotlight is on her because of her golf,” said Martens. “But it’s everything else about her that has made her so special to me personally and to our team.”

Barquin Arozamena was killed while playing golf alone at Coldwater Golf Links on Monday morning. A 22-year-old man who was living in a tent on a creek near the course has been charged with her murder.

The 22-year-old won the Big 12 Championship last spring and was named Iowa State Female Athlete of the Year. She owns the school record for career scoring average (73.44) and her 16 top-10 finishes ties for second in school history. The beloved Spaniard had finished her eligibility at ISU but was still on campus completing her degree in civil engineering.

The university had planned to honor Barquin Arozamena at Saturday’s 11 a.m. football game against Akron at Jack Trice Stadium, which is less than a mile from Coldwater Golf Links. Barquin Arozamena was over the moon about the recognition, shedding tears of joy when she heard the news.

Cruelly, Barquin Arozamena won’t get that moment. Instead, it’s her memory that will be celebrated. The women’s golf team has asked that everyone in the stadium wear yellow in her honor. It was Barquin Arozamena’s favorite color.

The Cyclones were scheduled to compete on Tuesday in the final match of the East & West Match Play against UC Davis in Ann Arbor, Mich. Instead the university sent a plane to Michigan to bring back the team so that the entire golf community at Iowa State could be together. Grief counselors were on hand to for both the men’s and women’s teams.

Barquin Arozamena lived in the same apartment complex as several of her teammates and remained an encouraging force.

“Our team is like a family,” Martens said.

Barquin Arozamena came to Ames, Iowa, in the fall of 2014 from Puente San Miguel, Spain. Martens visited there once, calling it the most beautiful place in the world.

“It’s like where the mountains meet the sea,” she said.

Barquin Arozamena adored Sergio Garcia. A picture of a young Barquin Arozamena kissing Garcia on the cheek was among her most prized possessions. She began crying on Sunday during the 2017 Masters long before Garcia even put on the green jacket. And when he “liked” a picture of Barquin Arozamena winning the Big 12 Championship last spring, well, it was the ultimate prize.

Garcia tweeted on Tuesday that he was heartbroken over the news of her death. Another European star, Tommy Fleetwood, noted on social media that he grew up thinking that golf courses were a safe haven.

Barquin Arozamena’s tragic death has shattered that notion.

“Where is safe these days?” Fleetwood asked.

Barquin Arozamena was at Coldwater Golf Links prepping for the second stage of LPGA Q-School next month. Over the summer, she had qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open at Shoal Creek and won the European Ladies Amateur in Slovakia. Her game had been trending toward the next level.

“I just can’t understand how there is people like this that does such a thing,” Spain’s Noemi Jiminez told the Ladies European Tour. “She was just practicing out there, and suddenly she’s gone.”

Barquin Arozamena came from a hard-working family. Her father owned a butcher shop.

“That’s why she wanted to make it on tour,” said Martens, “so that she could provide for her family, so that they could rest.”

Barquin Arozamena was extremely close to her mother, MaA’ngeles Arozamena, talking to her multiple times a day.

MaA’ngeles Arozamena told Martens that her daughter was happy every day that she was in Iowa. And then MaA’ngeles Arozamena, a woman still reeling from incomprehensible grief, said something that serves as a testament to the life Barquin Arozamena had built in America’s heartland.

“I have to say Christie,” her mother began, “that if we had the decision to make over again, I would still send her to Iowa State.”

• • •

An official memorial fund named the “Remembering Celia Memorial Fund” has been established. The funds collected will be directed to Celia’s family to be used to honor her memory. Checks should be made payable to the Remembering Celia Memorial Fund and directed to First National Bank, 405 Fifth Street, Ames, Iowa 50010.

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