Life Lesson: “I Got This”
BY BILL RUBIN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
About a year ago, most of the world was introduced to Amy Bockerstette. Some were lucky enough to know her before a magical moment on a golf course. As part of a pre-tournament practice round, she played the so-called loudest hole in golf, the par-3 16th hole at the TPC Scottsdale course with Gary Woodland, the previous year’s Waste Management Phoenix Open champion. The golf world and people with disabilities may never be the same.
The 16th hole is famous for many reasons. It’s the PGA Tour’s only fully-enclosed hole, meaning grandstand seats and skyboxes surround the entire hole, earning it the nickname, The Coliseum. Players-gladiators enter from a curtained walkway under the grandstands from the 15th green. As the Phoenix Open gets into full swing on the weekend, the 20,000 spectators in The Coliseum judge each tee shot with lusty boos or wild cheers.
Back to Amy. She’s a Special Olympics golfer with Down syndrome. Last January, the PGA surprised her with an invitation to play the 16th with Woodland. With no warm-up, Amy’s tee shot found a sand trap hazard. Woodland offered to hit her next shot, but Amy replied, “I got this.” Her bunker shot found the green and rolled toward the hole before stopping. The crowd, now engaged in what was unfolding, cheered their approval. Amy faced a 10-foot putt to save par. “I got this,” she told Woodland and others in the group. She drained the putt and the crowd roared. The video from tee to putt went viral and has been viewed over 40 million times. Amy and Gary became friends and stayed connected through social media.
Fast forward to the U.S. Open in June at Pebble Beach. Woodland was the 54-hole leader and likely faced a night of restlessness before Sunday’s final round. Amy tweeted him a reassuring message, “You got this.” At a critical time on the back nine, Woodland converted a birdie putt and went on to claim the championship. It was his first major golf championship. Addressing the media, he said “Amy told me a million times when we were on that hole… ‘I’ve got this,’ and I told myself that a million times today, ‘I’ve got this.’” He added, “She’s meant everything for me from a mental standpoint. The world needs more of her in it.”
More on Amy. Before her swings with Woodland, she participated in two Arizona girls state high school golf championships and earned a scholarship to play golf at a community college. There was a graduation speech, too. She balances college with a part-time job. The ‘I Got This’ Foundation was launched and provides golf instruction and playing opportunities to individuals with intellectual disabilities. Special order golf balls bear the message, I Got This. She’s in demand for celebrity appearances. Go Amy Go.
What’s learned. In an interview with Golf World magazine, sports psychologist Dr. Bob Rotella said, “I have worked with children with Down syndrome for several years, and I would say in general they are the happiest, most positive, upbeat human beings on this planet.” Amy’s father Joe added, “She’s not burdened with self-doubt.” Her golf instructor said, “She continues to teach me not to sweat the small stuff.”
Another take-away concerns employment opportunities for individuals with barriers and disabilities. They bring something new to employers, including productivity, staff morale, work ethic, and dedication. Locally, there’s Rise (www.rise.org), a private organization supporting individuals who have disabilities and other barriers obtain vocational achievement, self-sufficiency, and belonging in their communities. Rise has a training and in-house production facility as close as New Richmond, Wisconsin. Work can be brought to New Richmond or Rise can bring associates to on-site locations.
BRIDGE For Community Life (www.bridgecl.org) is another option. BRIDGE provides opportunities for youth and adults with disabilities as they transition into adulthood. They bring a holistic approach to life – – that a balance of life skills development, continued learning, recreation, and leisure leads to healthy minds and bodies. Among their offerings are community employment services, including job placement assistance, job coaching, and follow-up services.
St. Croix Valley employers may be well served to consider these valuable resources.
Going forward, repeat: I got this. You got this. Go Amy Go. The world needs more of you in it, including business and industry.