Leonie Harm knows how lucky she is to be here today.
The 18-year-old University of Houston freshman made history earlier this month when she became the first female from that program to qualify for the NCAA individual golf championships. But her life was nearly taken from her three years ago when she was hit by a drunk driver in her native Stuttgart, Germany.
On May 3, 2013, a car hit Harm at 45 mph, sending her into a week-long coma. She woke up to head injuries, broken ribs, hip and ankle, a collapsed lung and severe bruises. She was told that cases like hers had a 99.6% fatality rate, but the only permanent damage she sustained was loss of hearing in her right ear.
“I was pretty much dead,” she told The Houston Chronicle.
Three years later, after years of intense rehab and training in Germany — where she played on the European Junior Solheim Cup Team and ascended to 46 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking — the UH freshman has made her mark on the fledgling program in just five months.
“It reminds me not to take anything for granted,” Harm said of her accident and subsequent recovery. “I was definitely really lucky.”
Harm postponed playing with the squad until January of this year to allow her to continue playing in Europe, and in the few short months that she’s been a collegiate golfer, Harm led the Cougars to an American Athletic Conference title in just the program’s second year of existence.
She has no memory of what happened to her three years ago, save for a photo she posted to Instagram to commemorate the anniversary of the accident that changed her life. A Rocky Balboa quote gives her inspiration: “Nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and can keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done.”
Her NCAA title quest starts Friday at the Eugene (Ore.) Country Club.