When asked the question, “What inspires you to keep playing golf,” eighth grader Sophia Martinez answered proudly,
“This game continues to motivate me to be a better version of myself. Golf teaches you to be independent, patient, honest, respectful, a problem solver and numerous other values. When I am presented with a tough shot or a bad round, I always remind myself to remain positive and apply good decision-making steps to solve the problem.”
With this essay answer, the LPGA-USGA Girls Golf of Southeast LA and SCGA Junior member won the Women’s Sports Foundation’s national essay contest. Sophia was honored at the Annual Salute to Women in Sports Gala on Oct. 16 in New York City. The event was be attended by some of the top women in sport, including WSF founder Billie Jean King, Elana Meyers Taylor, Oksana Masters and Megan Rapinoe.
Sophia was treated to a full red-carpet experience at the gala along with the other essay winners. One of the highlights of the night was, of course, the hors d’oeuvres and Shirley Temples that Sophia ordered to fit in with the ‘fancy crowd.’ The other highlight for her was being introduced on stage alongside Hall of Fame gymnast Wendy Hilliard.
“The highlight of the gala was the Grand March and being able to meet with Wendy Hilliard and the other amazing athletes,” Sophia said. “It was so inspiring to hear their different stories and see so many strong women from other sports all come together.”
The entire night was a tribute to powerful women in sports and for Sophia, was very inspiring to see what can happen when you stick with sports.
“The gala has definitely inspired me in a lot of ways. First, it has made me become more confident in myself overall and my sport,” Sophia said. “Also, it has made me more comfortable in meeting new people and talking to them. I made it a point to introduce myself to any new girl I met that night. Lastly, it shows me that if you work really hard and believe in what you do your dreams can come true!”
Sophia’s essay centered around the life skills that she has learned through the Player & Youth Development program at SCGA Junior and the importance of playing alongside other girls at LPGA-USGA Girls Golf of Southeast LA events as well as the bond that she has with her mom, who is also a golfer.
“Golf has allowed me to spend more time with my mom and we’ve become closer,” Sophia said. “There’s a lot of down time during a round so we catch up on everything else that’s going on like my school work, friendships and what I want to do in the future.”
Sophia’s mom Joan has seen firsthand the impact that the game has had on her daughter and their relationship.
“It brings me so much joy to see that she is growing up to be an incredibly caring and passionate person,” Joan said. “She found something she loves to do and was able to see the true beauty of this sport.”
You can meet the other national essay winners here.
Read Sophia’s essay in full below.
In the beginning, golf was all about fun and games, and still is to this day! I was learning something new, making new friends, and enjoying time outdoors on the course. Unlike other sports or activities I tried before (soccer, tennis, ballet, musical theater), playing golf was different. Golf was special for several reasons but most importantly because it taught me how to be a better decision maker both on and off the course. The SCGA junior program encouraged us to remember an acronym G.O.L.F.ER., which helped me through many tough decisions and situations:
G: Grip it- define the decision
O: Observe and collect information
L: Link in the right people
F: Finalize the decision
E: Educate those involved
R: Ready golf, time to act
This game continues to motivate me to be a better version of myself. Golf teaches you to be independent, patient, honest, respectful, a problem solver, and numerous other values. When I am presented with a tough shot or a bad round, I always remind myself to remain positive and apply good decision-making steps to solve the problem.
I’m almost fourteen and have been playing golf for almost eight years now. As I have become older, I have become more aware of issues in our society. I recently watched the film, The Founders, which tells the story of how thirteen women golfers battled the odds to form the Ladies Professional Golfers Association (LPGA). As a female junior, I connected with this film as their efforts are the reason why women are allowed to play golf, and professionally, today.
Women still face inequality today and golf can be a way to break down those barriers. My mother is a working professional and I see how golf has allowed her to network both for work and personal reasons. Golf is a unique sport as it can bring all kinds of people together: young and old, all ethnicities, different interests and occupations. I meet different people on the course then we go our separate ways. However, in that couple of hours we have played together, despite our differences, we’ve bonded over the love of the game.
Golf is a lifetime sport. I will be forever inspired to play this game in the future not only to challenge myself but to teach the beauty of this game to others.