“the importance of being the first is to make certain that you are not the last.” “I take this responsibility and work every day to grow the game in diverse communities.”
Activities: Professional golfer, US Track and Field, US Bobsled and Skeleton Olympic Development Athlete, Aquatic cycling, and gymnastics
Q: So, what is your sport and how did you get started?
Golf is my primary sport, though I played several growing up. Something about the game and its inherent quietude, I knew, even at age 10 when just learning, that golf as a game was an eternal challenge that couldn’t be conquered. That intrigued me then, and it still does now. After college, I was invited to train with USA Track & Field and Jesse Owens Olympic Hall of Fame Coach Brooks Johnson. Years of sprint training led to my eventual recruitment to join the USA Bobsled & Skeleton Federation as an Olympic Development Athlete in preparation for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.
Q: Why did you decide to stay the course and stick with the sport?
I was raised to explore, commit and execute. In addition to awesome coaches and mentors in the game, golf itself was one of my best teachers. There was always something to be learned. Always something with which to experiment. I knew that incremental progress over time would lead to success and fulfillment of sorts. I played at a high level of international junior competition, collegiately at Yale University and then as a touring professional. Golf has always been with me and it always will be in some capacity. In the year 2000, I became the first African American woman to play varsity golf in Ivy League history. In 2006, I became only the fourth African American woman to ever play in an LPGA (Ladies Professional Golf Association) Tour event. My grandfather once explained to me that, ” the importance of being the first is to make certain that you’re not the last.” I take this responsibility seriously and work every day to grow the game in diverse communities. Golf is a game for everyone. Golf is the game of a lifetime.
Q: Were there times when you wanted to quit? If so, tell me about a time that stands out?
There are distinct moments of transition in my career that proved memorable. And by memorable I don’t mean “good,” I mean “worth remembering” as they taught me some very valuable and, at the time, seemingly painful life lessons. World ranked junior golfer to heralded freshman suffering from nagging injury (broken fingers) and extremely poor collegiate coaching support. Competitive amateur to developmental touring professional struggling to secure sponsorship in a down market. It was during these moments of transition though that I learned acutely the importance of resourcefulness and aligning oneself with a positive support team. The human element helped me prevail and I am forever thankful for those who have stood and continue to stand in support of my varied efforts.
Q: What do you do to stay in shape?
If I’m not active, I’m not myself! When living in New York City, I generally walk or ride my bike as modes of transportation; weather permitting. In the winter months my focus is brute strength, explosive speed and anaerobic systems while in spring and Summer I focus more on elongation, flexibility and endurance. Generally, a week’s regimen will include a healthy combination of cardio, speed work, stretching, core, plyometrics, strength training and recovery. I’ve become fond of aqua cycling and gymnastics too!
Q: Do you think if you weren’t an athlete, you would still live an active life?
Yes, most definitely! I love being on the go and challenging my body to do new things especially when outdoors.
Q: What do you say to women of color who say they don’t work out because they don’t know what to do with their hair?
I say, “Ladies, pick one ‘H.’ Your hair or your heart.” Heart disease is the number one killer of women and women of color are disproportionately affected by this preventable —and reversible— disease. I truly understand the difficulties and inconveniences associated with “our” hair and maintenance pre, during, and post-workout. Please believe, I know! I’ve worn my hair relaxed, in its natural state, in braids, in twists, in an enormous afro and now with a low cut caesar. Not working out because you don’t want to “screw the do” is an unsustainable pattern of behavior. Choose a style that is low maintenance and choose your life!