Honoring the Tiny Major League Girl

Anya Alvarez

Anya Alvarez

Major League Girls founder, Anya Alvarez, recounts how one golf shot inspired her to hit several thousand more

Seizing the Moment

By Anya Alvarez  

I don’t remember the first time I kicked a soccer ball, nor do I remember the first time I played catch. There’s a vague memory of me somersaulting in my pink leotard, and my second grade P.E. teacher telling me I was really good at dribbling a basketball.

My most vivid memory in sports took place when I was 7 years-old. Already, I was hooked on golf. And while I dabbled in playing other sports, swinging a metal stick around me in the hopes to get a tiny ball in a hole a few hundred yards away totally enamoured me.

Anya: where it all began ... check out those pants!

Anya: where it all began ... check out those pants!

So when my father took me to meet golfing legend Chi Chi Rodriguez at a youth golf clinic he was hosting two hours away from my hometown, I was beyond ecstatic. On the car ride I envisioned what I would say to him if I had the opportunity to talk to him, and if there was any chance that he could give me a tip on my golf swing.

Something better took place though: while standing in the crowd on the driving range with a hundred plus kids, Chi Chi asked if anyone would like to a hit a ball with him. My hand shot up quicker than the speed of light and to my surprise, Chi Chi pointed to me and said, “You, come up here!”

I had a 7-iron with me, and I excitedly approached him. He asked my name, and I trembled in that moment, with a sound barely escaping my lips. Then, he asked, “Do you want to hit a golf ball now?”

I don’t remember what I said in response, but it must’ve been, “Yes,” because I grabbed a ball, took a couple practice swings, and with my trusty little 7-iron, I hit the most perfect shot in that moment.

The ball soared almost 100 yards in the air.

I couldn’t believe it, and apparently neither could Chi Chi.

He looked at me and said, “Are you sure this isn’t your clinic and not mine?!”

In that moment, I felt so much pride and validation in all the time I had spent practicing. Even better,  that shot earned me an invite to play nine holes with Chi Chi that day. We sped around the course with two other kids from the clinic, and he talked to us about his time as a professional golfer and gave us tips, and showed us a couple trick shots.

That day was magical.

In many ways, it helped lay out the path that I would eventually take in the world of golf. It sparked a desire to continue improving, and reinforced my love for the sport. I went on to play college golf at the University of Washington, and later played in two U.S. Opens and on the LPGA, among some of the best golfers in the world.

Playing at the U.S. Open in 2014 

Playing at the U.S. Open in 2014 

And despite having some great moments on the course and on golf’s biggest stage, that day, as a 7 year-old girl is one I hold closest to my heart. Without that moment, it’s possible I may not have pursued golf as vigorously.

So today, during National Girls & Women in Sports Day, let’s honor those moments that inspired us on and off the field, and continue to support organizations that help give equal access to girls in sports!

And if you want, help keep Major League Girls running by supporting our campaign! https://www.ifundwomen.com/projects/major-league-girls

Remember, the #TheFutureofSportsisGirls and Major League Girls aims to empower girls through the power of sports

 

Anya Alvarez