Feb. 18, 2014
Rice University and Rice Athletics mourns the loss of junior golfer James Ragan, who passed away at his home in Corpus Christi Monday night after a lengthy battle with cancer. He was 20 years old.
"Today is a very sad day," Rice head golf coach Justin Emil said. "James Ragan made a positive impact on everyone around him. I'm honored to have coached such a fine young man who truly taught me way more than I could ever teach him."
"James was a role model in so many ways for all of us at Rice," Rice Dean of Undergraduates John Hutchinson said. "Most importantly to me, it was clear that his fervent drive was to spend what time he could with his fellow students. His determination to live and to help other young cancer victims is an example to all of us and a reminder about how fortunate we are to study, work and live together in this caring community."
Ragan was an inspirational force not only to his fellow Rice golfers and to the Owls' student body, but to his fellow cancer patients as a tireless advocate for the treatment of pediatric cancer through the Triumph Over Kid Cancer Foundation. Ragan founded TOKC along with his sister Mecklin in 2007 in the aftermath of raising $40,000 for research through a Toga Party to celebrate his 14th birthday.
The following year, they added a golf tournament to the festivities and the eighth annual event will be held in Corpus Christi on May 7. To date, the Ragans have raised over $750,000 for TOKC through a variety of events and programs, including the sale of orange "Triumph" bands.
Ragan's promising career in tennis was cut short in 2006 when he was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer, Osteosarcoma, which resulted in the removal of his left knee, part of his tibia and a large part of his femur, replacing them with metal rods. Despite recurrence of the disease, Ragan took up golf and became a standout junior and high school player, which allowed him to fulfill his dream of competing for Rice. He enrolled at Rice in the fall of 2011 and walked on to the golf team, joining his sister on South Main. Mecklin Ragan played tennis for the Owls, lettering in 2010.
He played for two seasons with the Owls, earning one letter. He made collegiate debut at the Louisiana Tech Squire Creek Invite in the fall of 2011 and was the Owls' No. 2 finisher with a three-round score of 228 (73-79-76) to tie for 45th. He finished third on the team that fall with an average 75.67 strokes per round.
He was named Rice's winner of the Conference USA Spirit of Service Award for the Spring of 2013 and he was nominated for an NCAA Inspiration Award.
His final competition for Rice came one year ago at the Rice Intercollegiate where he matched his career-best round of 73 on the second day of competition.
The 2014 Rice Intercollegiate began play on Monday at the Westwood Country Club and Ragan's former teammates wore orange ribbons in his memory on Tuesday and took the course after holding a moment of silence for their former teammate.
While continuing his studies as well as playing golf at Rice, Ragan also served on the Board of Directors of the Sunshine Kids, was the 2010 Master of Ceremony for M.D. Anderson's Children's Cancer Hospital's "A Conversation With a Living Legend" with Jack Nicklaus and Jim Nantz as well as a special ambassador for the hospital and was the Master of Ceremony and Auctioneer at The Craig Biggio Sunshine Kids Gala for several years.
To honor James memory, the Ragin family has requested that all memorials be directed to:
Triumph Over Kid Cancer Foundation
723 Coleman Avenue
Corpus Christi, Texas