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'There's no manual that you can turn to': Through tears, Pollard addresses death of Celia Barquin Arozamena

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Jamie Pollard Press Release 2

Iowa State Athletics Director Jamie Pollard begins to tear up as he discusses the death of former women's golfer Celia Barquin Arozamena during a press conference at the Hilton Coliseum on Tuesday.

Jamie Pollard Press Release 3 (Crying)

Iowa State Athletics Director Jamie Pollard begins to tear up as he discusses the death of former women's golfer Celia Barquin Arozamena during a press conference at the Hilton Coliseum on Tuesday.

The atmosphere in the Pete Taylor Media Room in Hilton Coliseum was as somber as the weather outside the arena. 

Situations like this, in the words of Iowa State Athletic Director Jamie Pollard, are something with "no manual that you can turn to."

Pollard said Celia Barquin Arozamena was supposed to be honored during the Akron game on Saturday, celebrating her selection as the Cyclones' Female Athlete of the Year.

Originally, she "broke down in tears," when told about the honor, according to Pollard, who added that she "was in awe that Iowa State would think to recognize her in front of 60,000 people at a football game."

Pollard then reiterated the plans for the Saturday to honor Barquin Arozamena, wanting to use Saturday as "the first step in a really symbolic healing moment for this entire community."

Pollard also provided a timeline from the athletics side, while also addressing how the university would honor Barquin Arozamena this weekend at the Cyclones' football game against Akron.

Pollard said the athletic department received a call Monday morning from a staff member who said that a member of the women's golf team was missing and that there was a body found at Coldwater Golf Links. This happened while the women's golf team was finishing up a victory in the semifinals of the East and West Match Play in Ann Arbor, Michigan. 

The school diverted its plane from a path toward Florida to go pick up the golf team and return them to Ames on Monday night. The team then met with university counselors and the men's golf team as a group.

"It was very therapeutic," Pollard said of the group meeting the teams had. "[It's] the beginning of what I think will be a really long healing process.

"I don't think you can put a timeline on how long it'll take for this community, this institution and this athletic program to ever overcome this."

Multiple times, Pollard had to pause and collect himself. His voice cracked, and his eyes welled up as he eulogized the fallen student-athlete. The pain on his face was evident. 

Pollard described Barquin Arozamena as someone who "probably embraced being a Cyclone more than just about anybody we've ever had."

"How we respond as a community to what has transpired will probably dictate how we remember her legacy," Pollard said. 

He said that as of right now, there are no plans to change practice policy for Iowa State's women's golf team, seeing it as more of a case of Barquin Arozamena being in the wrong place at the worst possible time for a random act of violence.

"Ames is still a touch of Mayberry," Pollard said when asked about there being a "safe haven" in this world. "That got cracked a little this week.

"This is bigger than our athletics program."

When asked what Barquin Arozamena's legacy would be, Pollard said that it was still to be determined. 

"What we know about what she accomplished has been phenomenal," Pollard said. "She was an incredible student, and an incredible athlete.

"You hate to think that it takes something tragic to elevate somebody's legacy to an even higher level, but my sense is that's what before us." 

The Cyclones as an institution are reeling, still trying to process a campus-wide tragedy and losing one of their own in such a senseless manner. 

Pollard was vulnerable and hurting as he spoke.

"I've spent my entire career taking great pride in fixing things. Unfortunately this time, there's no words or actions that can fix this situation," he said. "Losing one of our student-athletes is like losing a child. We're all devastated and heartbroken."

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