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WNBA & CBS Sports Partner in Multi-Year Deal

The WNBA has certainly kept busy during its offseason, securing the league’s latest partnership deal with CBS Sports Network just before the start of its 23rd season. As per the agreement, CBS Sports Network will air 40 games this season, including the league’s All-Star game on ABC. ESPN Networks are slated to broadcast 16 games, including 11 on ESPN2, three on ABC and two on ESPN. NBA TV will match CBS’ total with 40 games, while 20 more will be broadcast on Twitter.

The deal nearly doubles the WNBA’s national exposure – raising the number of nationally televised league games from 67 to 97. Media expansion is significant for the WNBA as they come off a strong 2018 season, showing a 31% viewership increase across ESPN2 and NBA TV.

CBS also obtains rights to some “ancillary, storytelling aspects” to create extra content that aims to grow the league and sports network throughout the partnership. This content could range anywhere from highlights to short and long-form storytelling off-the-court. While the details of this content are still up in the air, both CBS and the WNBA agree that sharing player stories will be beneficial in attracting fans.

The CBS deal is the most recent of several big announcements for the league. Days before the WNBA Draft, the league announced a multiyear marquee partnership with AT&T, making the global communications and technology company the first non-apparel partner to have its logo featured on the front of all 12 team jerseys. At the draft, new uniforms with AT&T logos were revealed at Nike’s NYHQ to debut the partnership. The WNBA has also rebranded with a new logo.

Fans can catch the first game of the WNBA season, The Minnesota Lynx vs. the Chicago Sky on May 25, on the CBS Sports Network.

LUNA Bar Helps USWNT Close the Pay Gap

Like many other teams, the United States National Women’s Soccer Team have been fighting for equitable pay and treatment as the men’s team for years. In March, the team filed a federal class-action lawsuit against U.S. Soccer alleging institutionalized gender discrimination. Many stood behind the players, but one company decided to take action. On Equal Pay Day, April 2, LUNA Bar (a division of Clif Bar) publicly announced that they are helping the team close the pay gap with a gift of $718,750!

A little background here – U.S. Soccer pays members of the women’s team $31,250 less per player than their counterparts on the men’s team. LUNA Bar’s donation will be allocated equally to the 23 members of the 2019 World Cup team to make up the sizable difference. The women are also eligible for Olympic qualifying and roster bonuses, which will narrow the bonus gap if the team qualifies and competes in the three-week quadrennial tournament. By the way, they are ranked #1 in the world right now.

Soccer isn’t the only sport where women are fighting for pay parody and it will be interesting to see if other marketers follow LUNA Bar’s example. “It forces other brands to look in the mirror, whether they want to or not. It forces our federation and other companies to ask, ‘What is our responsibility and what can we do in this fight?'” said USWNT midfielder Megan Rapinoe.

No matter what happens next, LUNA Bar’s generous donation to the USWNT Players Association squarely puts the brand at the forefront of the equal pay movement and proves that  you can sometimes do great by doing good. Since the announcement, the brand has received tens of millions of earned and owned positive media impressions. Many celebrities and influencers have taken to social media to show their support via unsolicited endorsements of the brand.  

Becca Roux, Executive Director of the USWNT Players Association, shared her hope by saying: “I would love if this starts a new trend in how brands activate around women athletes. I would love to see other brands in other countries step up for their national teams and support them in the same way. That would be a dream.” Hopefully, marketers will take notice of LUNA Bar’s leadership and will be as thoughtful and creative when they consider how they can impact important societal issues like equal pay.

Kendall Coyne Schofield Proves Hockey Is For All

Kendall Coyne Schofield had an outstanding 2018 and shows no plan of slowing down in the new year.  The Team USA & NWHL forward became the first woman to compete in the NHL All-Star Skills Competition after stepping in for an injured Nathan MacKinnon in the “Fastest Skater” event.  Coyne approached the starting line Friday night as the crowd went wild with excitement. In just over fourteen seconds, the 5’2 powerhouse showed the world that hockey is for everyone.  Coyne stated that she knew it would be a big moment, but the outpouring of support really showed the lasting impact it will have on the sport as a whole. Her performance and the fans’ reactions have been so significant that NBC hired Coyne as an analyst for the Wednesday Night Hockey game between Tampa Bay Lightning and Pittsburgh Penguins.  

Coyne reflected on the competition saying, “I just had to stand up…and just, you know, take it all in and just smile because I was like, this is just one of the coolest moments of my life.”  This is just the most recent reason for celebration for the athlete. Coyne began last year with a historic Olympic gold medal. Six months later she became the first woman to play in the Chicago Professional Hockey League.  To wrap up her 2018, Coyne was inducted into the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame and became the first woman to receive the Stan Mikita Lifetime Achievement Award. Starting 2019 off with another first and an on-air gig only seems fitting for this rising star.

Throughout her athletic career, Coyne has fought for gender equality in her sport.  On and off the ice, through her playing and her words, she has shown women have a place in hockey.  The support and encouragement from the NHL and the media further proves her point. “The NHL took a huge stance that night in allowing me to compete. They knew I could skate with the guys.”

“You cherish these moments,” Coyne said. “That’s that I tell kids all the time. When I was putting on my hockey skates when I was 3 years old, I didn’t think I’d play in two Olympic games, get the education that I received or sitting in front of you here today after being the first woman to compete in an All-Star skills competition. It’s amazing what this game has brought me.”

The Fight for Equal Pay

Take a look at the list of the top paid athletes. When you scroll through the names one by one you will notice one thing: not a single female athlete is on the list of the one hundred athletes featured. Not even Serena Williams, a female athlete who arguably has dominated more headlines than any woman in sports history.

The total monies earned by the men featured on the Forbes list includes team contracts and sponsorship deals. While many make the argument that men in sports garner more interest, and therefore men generate more revenue, there are important historical pinpoints in history that have led to female athletes being left behind in terms of having equal opportunity to earn equal pay.

First, women and girls haven’t had the same access to sports historically as men and boys. Until Title IX was passed in 1974, one in 27 girls played sports. Now, 2 out of 5 girls play sports, and girl’s participation in sports continues to grow.

Secondly, professional women’s sports leagues haven’t been established as long. The oldest women’s professional league is the LPGA, after being founded in 1950, with the Women’s Tennis Association later being founded in 1973.

Not surprisingly, because they have been existence longer, female golfers and tennis players earn the most money in competition.

Therefore, the question that needs to be asked is how can we continue supporting women’s sports so they have the ability to earn more on the field, and what is being done in various sports to help promote equal pay in their respective sports?

For starters, let’s look at tennis. In 1973, tennis legend Billie Jean King, threatened to boycott the U.S. Open in 1973 over pay disparity. In response, organizers of the U.S. Open arranged for equal prize money to the man and women champions. In 2007, with Venus Williams leading the way, Wimbledon followed suit and granted equal pay to the champions of the men and women’s divisions. The other Grand Slam tournaments, the Australian and French Open, have also honored the winners the same prize money.

This has led women who win Grand Slam tournaments to earn more money on the court; however, outside of the Grand Slams, the pay disparity between men and women in stark. Take the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, which takes place before the U.S. Open. Last year, the men’s winner Grigor Dimitrov took home $954,225, while Garbiñe Muguruza pocketed $522,450 for her win.

While women still have a long way to go to reach pay equality across all tennis competitions, it’s a positive step in the right direction.

Women golfers, unlike the women’s tennis, still don’t receive equal pay for the majors despite two of them being run under the same organization. For instance, the U.S. Open, which is operated by the United States Golf Association, pays the men’s champion $2.16m, while the women’s winner earns $900k. In regular season events, the women barely earn a third of what the men make – and part of the pay disparity in due to the LPGA and PGA being run under different organizations and not under the same umbrella.

Then there’s the U.S. Women’s National Team who won the World Cup, and still earned four times less than the U.S. men’s team (the men didn’t even make to the finals). After filing a lawsuit, the women were able to negotiate higher pay and per diem.

The Women’s U.S. Hockey Team also boycotted for better pay and compensation for training, and their boycott worked, coming to an agreement that substantially increased their pay.

The real standard of change took place though when the World Surf League recently announced that the men and women would receive equal pay across the board. Kelly Slater, an eleven time world champion said this decision would hopefully send, “a message to society — that equal prize money [for men and women] should be the standard.”

This announcement highlighted that change is imminent, and surfing isn’t the first action sport to promote gender equality through equal pay. In 2005, the Action Sports Alliance organized a women’s boycott of the X Games, stating that unless pay and media coverage of women improved in the games they would not compete. Soon after, after setting up a meeting with John Skipper, the former president of ESPN, an agreement was reached where the women’s prize winnings would increase every year until it was on par with the men. According to Vogue Magazine, “In 2008, the women and men’s champions both took home $40,000. And it’s been equal ever since.”

An important thing to note is that there isn’t a monolith of how women’s sports league operate. Some are owned by the same organizations as men’s leagues, unlike the LPGA which is an independent organization than the PGA tour.

These nuances with the teams need to be taken into account because it will lead to unique challenges in helping create equal pay across all sports.

And while these movements are all in a positive direction, there is a still a lot of room for improvement. One of the the ways we can help contribute to pay equality, is to improve the coverage women’s sports receive. Studies show that they receive only 4 percent of coverage in sports media. This in in spite of women making up 40 percent of sports participants.

With better coverage, there will be more opportunity for people to connect as fans to women’s sports, becoming aware of these women’s stories, while simultaneously being exposed to their exceptional athleticism.

At GoodSport Women, we want to help contribute to the conversation around women’s sports through storytelling through the power of video. We believe that storytelling around women in sports can create a wave of interest, that will ultimately lead better turnout at women’s sports events, and more live coverage, and more media coverage.

We believe their stories are just as important to tell as the men, and we hope you continue to follow us on our journey as we aim to change the landscape of women’s sports through the power of their own stories.

The future of sports is women, and we’re just getting started.

Cruz Comes Back Stronger

College ball was always a dream for Freshman Jordan Cruz, a guard for the University of Utah women’s basketball team, but after undergoing a brain surgery her freshman year of high school, there were some doubts she would ever get to play at that level. She suffered from arteriovenous malformation (AVM), which means that the arteries and veins on the left side of her brain were tangled and the proper amount of blood could not pass through.

Cruz was interested in basketball early in her childhood. Although many made fun of her for playing against the boys at recess, that didn’t stop her from doing the sport she loved. Cruz’s perseverance and strong character is what pushed her to overcome the next major obstacle in her life. From a young age, she experienced subtle absence seizures, but her and her family were still unaware of the severity of the situation. AVM caused headaches, nausea, and dizziness, which also began to worsen during the eighth grade.

“I would be walking around the hallway with my friends and they would try and talk to me, but they would think I was ignoring them,” Cruz said.

What they did not realize was that Cruz was having a sudden and brief lapse in attention caused by an absence seizure in the brain. It was around that year that she began to notice something was really wrong.

“I had a big one during a basketball game my freshman year,” she said. “I told my coach to pull me out… I kind of just sat on the bench and blanked out for a good 15 minutes, maybe longer.”

Aftering going up for a layup, 15 year old Cruz suddenly lost cognition, leaving her
teammates and coaches in fear. She was rushed to the hospital shortly after where she discovered that she had arteriovenous malformation and needed brain surgery. It took the next couple months of rest and speech therapy for Cruz to gain back her strength, motor skills and cognitive functions.

“I didn’t start giving up, but the depression hit me hard,” she said. “I just thought that because of my health, I wasn’t going to be able to play anymore or it would be really hard for me to play.”

With the support of her family and the patience and confidence she had in herself, Cruz
finally stepped back onto the basketball court. Although it was a rough start, she managed to work her way up to team MVP and get her GPA back on track. By her senior year of high
school, she was averaging 20 or more points a game. She also competed for the Cal Stars AAU club team and was considered one of the top shooters in the country.

It was not only her scoring average that was noticeable by University of Utah head coach Lynne Roberts, but also her strong character and potential. Cruz brought her athletic and academic skills to Utah with the new 2017 recruiting class. Roberts says that shooting is her niche, which is something the team will need for this upcoming season.

The Utes were welcoming to the freshman right away and they look forward to seeing
how Cruz’s career will play out. Roberts noted that Cruz’s health is always the number one priority but she is confident that she can continue to play at a very high level in the Pac 12 Conference.

“It’s like anything else that some of us have gone through and it doesn’t mean you can’t do something,” Roberts said. “It just alters how you do it.”

Cruz does not dwell on the past, but rather sets goals for the future.

“I want to show that if we work really hard, we can see how much we can improve,” she said. “For myself, it’s just about being a freshman and learning new things, learning from the upperclassmen and just playing my game, but also having fun with the team.”

Disabled Somali Refugee Playing College Basket…

“Growing up as a young Somali Muslim girl, from a war-torn country, playing sports was not a possibility.”

In 2014, when 18-year-old Rihana Ibrahim, a Somali refugee, arrived in Tucson, Arizona, she recalls: “I was happy, but scared. Nobody was around.”

For Rihana, the fear was well placed. Affected with polio as a child, she lost mobility in her lower limbs, sometimes dragging herself on the ground, or using old wooden crutches as a means of a carriage. Despite not speaking English and having faced several obstacles in her short life, she knew the United States was where she wanted to call home. “I really wanted a better life in the U.S.A,” Rihana says.

In her first week in the U.S., fate struck when Rihana met Mia Hansen, a volunteer with the International Rescue Committee (IRC). Mia took Rihana under her wing immediately, recalling the first time she met her: “When Rihana came into the room, I saw her in a really bad wheelchair for someone [permanently disabled]…and it was very obvious she needed a hand.”

Mia, whose brother is a quadriplegic and served on the board of directors for Mobility International USA (MIUSA), wanted to help Rihana gain back confidence and strength. Mia and her brother found Rihana a new wheelchair, one that she could play sports in. And before Rihana knew it she began playing on the University of Arizona’s wheelchair basketball team. Growing up as a young Somali Muslim girl, from a war-torn country, playing sports was not a possibility.

“Women in Somalia don’t play sports. Only men play soccer,” Rihana says.

Between the ages of 5 and 18, Rihana’s life was not one filled with much hope. She lost her parents to violence at just 5 years old, and while a woman took her in afterwards, the woman passed away when Rihana was 12. Immediately the deceased woman’s son gave Rihana an ultimatum: marry him or get kicked out.

When Rihana said no to his marriage demand, he beat her over the head, saying she had no future as a disabled girl in Somalia. Undeterred, Rihana stood her ground because she believed in her future: “I wouldn’t marry him because I wanted to be someone,” she says.
Determined to escape the devastated country of Somalia, she called on the help of women in her community, and made a three-month trek to the Aw-barre refugee camp, just outside of Jijiga, Ethiopia.

Even as a young, single girl with a disability, it still took over two years for her to receive official refugee status. “They will give you a refugee paper but no ID card identifying you as a refugee,” Rihana says. “[The card could get you] oil and rice. People who had money would get their cards and would bribe their way.”

She found safety in the refugee camp, but continued to get sick and weaker due to malnutrition. Then came the advances within the camp and Rihana found a community of women who protected her, “There were men in the camp who wanted to marry me, but I still said no, and I stayed with the women,” she says.

At the end of 2012, officers from the U.S. State Department at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) handed her a letter that said she could come to the U.S.

“When I heard I was coming to States I was very happy and many people [in the camp] cried because they were happy for me,” Rihana recalls.

After she received the news she would find refuge in the U.S., it would still take over a year for her to receive clearance, which only highlights the vetting process refugees go through to find solace here.

For Rihana, her new life in the U.S. presented new challenges, like learning to read and write in English. But her mentor, Mia, felt strongly that sports would help Rihana integrate better, give her a sense of freedom and happiness she had not experienced before.

“I have seen the biggest smile and laughter from her when she is playing basketball,” Mia says.

Basketball did not come easy at first, though, as Rihana struggled to learn how to push the wheelchair, throw the ball, and shoot. Even more demanding was trying to understand the coach’s instructions, “At first coach was yelling and I didn’t know why,” Rihana remembers.
To provide encouragement, Mia began attending practices and brought in another Somali refugee, who helped translate the coach’s directions for Rihana.

According to Mia, “At first she didn’t understand why she had to push the wheelchair so hard during practice, and kept asking the coach, ‘Why?’ There was a bit of a standoff there, because she came from a place of having to save every bit of energy in order to survive. But then, we talked to a translator about that, and he told her that she didn’t have to be afraid because she has food to eat now, and told her that her body would grow if she pushed herself.”

Mia helped Rihana find an apartment near the University of Arizona campus so she could attend practice easily. “She would go to practice at 6 a.m. every morning, five days a week, and would push herself [in the wheelchair] there,” Mia says.

While playing on the basketball team proved to have benefits for Rihana, her teammates gained a new perspective, too. According to Mia, “She won the respect of her teammates because she was fearless, and once they learned her story, their jaws were dropping. It kind of made them feel like, ‘Maybe my troubles aren’t quite as bad.’”

Now, at 21 years old, Rihana has played basketball for almost three years, and has ventured into trying other sports like tennis and lacrosse.

Rihana loves basketball. “I have made a lot of friends on the team,” she says.

Now, she is learning English, and hopes to enroll in community college in the future. She also found a new passion: makeup. Her face is a palette to express herself, and she dreams of being the first Muslim woman in a wheelchair to become a model.

Over the last three years in the U.S., she credits the resolve she has acquired through sport and through the help of Mia. In the process, it has helped Rihana find her voice.

“I would like to do social work one day,” Rihana says. “My dream is to share my story. I want to speak in front of the United Nations like Malala Yousafzai about women who have dreams, who are strong, and [so women know] they can come true. I would like women to know they can have freedom.”

Megabi Skate

When Israel Dejene decided to make a trip from his hometown of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to Sweden in 2005, he never imagined how a chance encounter would end up becoming his life calling. While roaming the streets of Stockholm Dejene saw someone cruising on the sidewalk with a skateboard and he was mesmerized with the ease that this person was able to move through the crowds of people on something that looked so unstable. He had never seen skateboarding in person before, and he asked the stranger if he could show him how to stand on the skateboard. Minutes later, the stranger gifted him the skateboard and Dejene went home with a newfound passion. But in that skateboard Dejene saw an opportunity to reach the youth in his troubled neighborhood.

He returned to Ethiopia with a vision in mind, and Megabi Skate was founded. But he wanted to make a program to also specifically reach girls, and started Megabi Skate Girls, the first African girls skateboarding team. In a country where not many girls play sports, this was met with some pushback, but overtime people in the community began to see how powerful of a tool skateboarding was in providing these girls a platform to believe in themselves.

Megabi Skate provides training and equipment, meeting five times a week, teaching the kids how to skateboard, while also focusing on teaching teamwork and leadership skills. Dejene shared his story with espnW about the first time someone introduced him to skateboarding, how he’s using it to engage youth, and the importance of empowering the future of young girls through sport.

1) When were you introduced to skateboarding?

I grew up in the capital city Addis Ababa. I had never seen skateboarding before, except for one time on television. It was Tony Hawk, and I thought he had magnets under his shoes and I was so amazed. Then, in 2005 I traveled to Sweden for the very first time out of Africa. I saw someone skateboarding and asked him if he could show me how to ride and I immediately fell in love with it. That stranger gave me his skateboard, and when I returned home, I gave it back to the kids in my neighborhood, Shiromeda’, one of the forgotten neighborhoods.

The kids really seemed to love it, and I found it to be a positive experience as well, and felt something special could come of it. As I continued to share the love of skateboarding, I saw how it could empower the youth who are at risk on the street. It was that same year I started Megabi Skate.

2) Why did you decide to start Megabi Skate?

I decided to start Megabi Skate because I want inspire and empower the youth. By providing skateboards and a spot where they can be positively inspired and empowered, it can make a difference not only in my neighborhood, but in my country, and eventually the world. Skateboarding is helping them stay positive and find a new image of themselves.

3) How did you come up with the name?

The meaning of Megabi is derived from the Ethiopian word, which means someone that gives life to others. My father gave me the nickname Megabi at a very young age when I would wake up very early in the morning and walk to buy bread during some very hard times in Ethiopia when food was hard to find. The same way that bread was a life giver to us, is the way that I feel about how skateboarding gives life to these kids.

4) How are you reaching girls and encouraging them to skateboard?

From the beginning I have included both girls and boys at the same time, but it was hard for girls to come out because they have to do house chores and are expected to be home. Playing sports in Ethiopia is not something that is common for girls, but my little sister, Muluken, and I have pushed over and over again to have the girls get permission to come and learn skateboarding. We’ve even had people go and do the chores for the girls so that they can come and skate. My sister has also been so amazing and so persistent to help make the girls dream come true, and is our designated Girl Skate coordinator. These girls are a true example of how they can change the world. We’ve grown to about 40 girls in the program, which is tremendous.

5) Can you tell me more about the girls skateboarding team?

The girl skateboarding team is the first girls team in Africa. People made fun of them and didn’t believe in them, but they did and I believe in them. And over time they have started to shine and be an example for future generations. Skateboarding broke their fears and helped with their low self esteem, and they are no longer afraid of skateboarding not being a normal thing for them to do in Ethiopia. So now because of skateboarding, they don’t have fear. In every festival in the city they join and perform on their skateboard, and speak in front of thousands of people sharing their story and their love for skating.

6) What do the girls seem to love about skateboarding?

We had a 3 year-old, Yemar, say, “I am a birrabirro,” which means butterfly in Amharic as she was skating on the mini ramp back and forth in her dress with polkadots. She said it made her feel free, and several of the girls part of the program say the same thing. The girls love to skate together and support each other. It’s created a sense community with each other and it’s helping them see that they don’t have to follow societal norms.

7) What about skateboarding empowers the girls?

This is a new sport for Ethiopia and this seems like an impossible sport, and sometimes people resist unusual things. But people have begun supporting it immensely because they see how it gives the kids a good self image they make them feel that they can do anything. The joy on their faces after they master a trick, or their increased confidence to be able to do something challenging, is really rewarding for everyone who gets to witness it. The ultimate goal is to help them focus and put their mind together for whatever their dreams are and believe in themselves!

8) How important do you feel it is to empower young women?

If you empower young women you empower the coming whole generation. Period. Women are very good at multiplying, so if you empower the young women they will multiply it and give it back to their communities.

9) You played a big part in helping skateboarding be part of the 2020 Olympics. Tell me about that process and the

kids excitement of potentially representing Ethiopia in skateboarding?

It was a complicated and long process, but me, along with several others involved in skateboarding were able to successfully petition the Olympic Committee to have skateboarding be part of the Olympics. Gary Ream, President of the International Skateboarding Federation, really helped push along the efforts and helped lay out a clear picture of what skateboarding will look like in the future. The Megabi kids are very excited about the prospect of competing in the Olympics and are working so hard to be able to get there! We have a couple guys and girls that I think will be able to make it if they focus and continue to push themselves, and I’m hopeful Ethiopia will have Megabi Skaters at the Olympics.

10) Do you believe sports should be used a means in more communities to help reach kids, and if so why?

I strongly believe that sports should be used in more communities to help reach kids. For instance, Megabi skaters are known for their positive actions around our neighborhood and in the city, and other parts of the country. So every Saturday morning is a day of all Megabi Skate youth get together and share love, do community service. We call Saturday morning ” happy day” and we plant trees, clean up the neighborhood, help elderly mum’s who needs help with house chores, and we look after each other. This has grown so much and people appreciate the actions of these vibrant young skaters. Sports help us bring out the best part of us and help makes kids more disciplined, focused, and happier. Any way that we can help kids realize their potential and worth should be explored and supported.

How To Coach Your Kids

When my father first introduced me to golf he had one goal in mind: he wanted to make sure it was fun. And that he did. Every time we went out on the course or the range, there was a game or challenge involved. We never kept score, and only occasional instruction took place.

The instruction my father did provide was always useful though: he’s a Class A PGA pro, and has a firm understanding of the fundamentals of the game. As a result of my dad’s guidance and approach to teaching me the game, I fell in love with golf.

As my game evolved, my relationship with my father on the course began to evolve as well. My father realized I had a talent for the game, and wanted to push me to excel. Everyday he would remind me to practice, and everyday I would tell him that I had practiced. When I reached my teenage years, I increasingly became more independent and wanted less hands on involvement with my game. For my dad, this was difficult. He wanted to guide me and help me realize my potential, and his encouragement felt like smothering.

Like many parents who introduce their kids to golf, there is a fine line of being the parent, while also being the coach.

You’ll have to ask yourself questions involving how to push your child without being overbearing, or realizing when it’s time to bring someone else in to coach your child.
At the end of the day, the last thing you want as a parent is to play a contributing role to your child quitting the game.

Jacqui Nicoletti McSorley, who wrote the book Golf Guide For Parents And Players: Secrets Of Success For Junior And College Golf, The Pro Tour And Beyond, has played the role of a mediator often between the child and parent. McSorley, who is Class A LPGA instructor and an instructor at the Golf Academy of America, has taught countless juniors over the years, many of who have received golf scholarships to play in college.

“One of the biggest mistakes I see parents make is that they push them too hard. There was a parent I dealt with who would make his son do push-ups if he hit a bad shot. He was like a drill sergeant with the kid, and it sucked away any joy from his son playing golf,” McSorley said.

According to McSorley, parents need to be careful in not treating golf like an end-all-be-all with their child. “There is so much pressure around kids trying to get golf scholarships. So we place these false hopes that there’s this scholarship at the end of tunnel, which for most kids there isn’t. So not only are the parents stressed, the kids get stressed too.”

The parents also need to be willing to be coached, “Often times I am coaching the parents more-so than I am coaching their child. But they have to be willing to learn, and see where their shortcomings are and how they can be a better support system for the children.”

This means relinquishing control to instructors like McSorley, and trusting the process rather than dictating each and every step of their child’s future in golf.

In my case, my father did eventually step back and put his ego to the side. He allowed me to make my own decisions regarding the future of my game, and only stepped in when he felt so strongly that he couldn’t stay silent.

I know it wasn’t an easy endeavor for my dad. He believed in me more than anyone, and his main goal was to always make sure that I reached my potential. His willingness though to allow me to carve my own path and to focus on encouraging me rather than pushing me, led me to keep playing a game that I loved. It also allowed me to integrate him into my game when I wanted him to be more involved.

He caddied for me in several junior tournaments, and when I went to qualifying school for the LPGA, he carried my sticks and provided emotional support on the golf course. And on my third attempt to qualify for the LPGA, I earned my card with him on my bag. It was a moment I will never forget, and one I know he cherishes as well.

So, to all the parents out there who coach their kids, focus on what makes it fun for you to be with each other on the course. As a result, the game can be something that brings you and your child closer together – their success will just be the icing on the cake.