SEWARD, Neb. – As announced on Tuesday (March 19) by the Golf Coaches Association of America (GCAA) and the Golf Channel, Concordia University senior Nolan Zikas has been named the recipient of the 2018 David Toms Overcoming Adversity Award. Only one total student-athlete from all levels of collegiate golf are recognized with this honor each year. The award is presented by the American Junior Golf Association (AJGA).
In its 10th year of existence, the David Toms Overcoming Adversity Award is presented each year to the men's collegiate golfer who has overcome obstacles in life to excel both on and off the golf course. In recent years, the honor has been given to student-athletes from schools such as the University of Michigan, Louisiana State University and the University of Florida.
In recognition of his honor, Zikas flew to Orlando, Fla., over spring break to interview at the headquarters of the Golf Channel. That interview aired as part of the Golf Channel’s Morning Drive program early on March 19.
Zikas told the Golf Channel, “Golf has played a big role in my life. It’s definitely saved my life, I would say. I’ve always grown up wanting to be out on the golf course when this had happened to me. I didn’t want to be laid up in the hospital, but I would still try to do anything with golf that I could. My mom and dad would always think that it was amazing that I would always be up, wanting to play golf. It’s definitely saved my life.”
The struggles endured by the native of La Vista, Neb., were documented in 2016 by the story, “Nolan Zikas: I will be the victor.” Zikas first learned of a cancerous tumor in his right leg in January of 2012. He was then diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer that eventually would spread to his lungs. In April of 2012, Zikas underwent an operation that resulted in the removal of his right femur bone, the insertion of a titanium rod and knee replacement. Zikas went through 11 additional surgeries since then, including one his freshman year at Concordia.
Through it all, Zikas has been a testament to the power of faith and positive thinking. Back in 2016, Zikas was quoted as saying, “I don’t think I’m ever really going to know why. Why me? Why not some other kid who does drugs or gets into trouble? God has given me this situation because He knows I can overcome it.”
Zikas just wanted to play golf and he continued to do so at Concordia despite his health situation. Just a few short days after Zikas had learned his cancer had returned in April of 2016, he still went out and shot a two-under-par 69. Then in May of that same spring, Zikas shot an even-par 70 at the fourth GPAC qualifier event, tying him for first place in that round.
The product of Papillion La Vista High School never stopped fighting what had ailed him. Now he’s proud to say that he’s been cancer free for three years. Zikas has thrived as a Bulldog. He is a three-time All-GPAC honoree and was tabbed a Srixon/Cleveland Golf All-America Scholar by the GCAA in 2018. The recreation and sport studies major equaled a program single round record in September 2018 by shooting a four-under-par 68. His career 18-hole average is 75.79 in 56 rounds.
The David Toms Overcoming Adversity Award is the latest honor for Zikas, who continues to inspire those around him.
“Winning the David Toms Overcoming Adversity Award has provided me with so many opportunities and I can’t thank everyone enough for these opportunities,” said Zikas. “I also need to thank everyone involved in my life (friends, coaches, family, and God) for the continued support and will to keep fighting the great fight and still pursue my goals and dreams in life! This award is not only for me but for everyone involved in my life. Thank you again for the wonderful opportunities and considering me as the award winner.”