We were sitting at the dinner table on Easter Sunday, and my dad asked me about my recent blogs. I usually send a text to my whole family when I write a new one, but since the quarantine began, I’ve been hesitant to do so. I didn’t feel like my last two blogs were my best material. I have felt that being out of routine threw off the flow of my writing. I explained this to my parents and two sisters that were also home this past Easter.

My sister jumped in and said, “I bet it’s hard for you to find inspiration during this time.” As an athlete, you are always striving to get better, but you are usually getting better to perform to your best ability for the next competition. Among all athletes, we are currently in limbo. In comparison to the challenges our world faces today, we truly can’t complain. However, I also can’t ignore that many athletes like myself, may be a bit lost at the moment. Recently, I’ve been preoccupied with what comes next for me. Do I go back to school for another year or turn pro? However, there are too many unknowns to make a clear decision.

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Anyway, when my sister said those words it really hit me. I mean, I am an inspiration junky! How can I be lacking inspiration? She wasn’t wrong. As I tiptoed upstairs to my bedroom, the words inspiration echoed in my brain. I turned left into my bedroom and I don’t know what propelled me to do so, but I looked up. Hanging above my bed is a flag signed by Annika Sorenstam when she played in the PGA Tour event at Colonial. There it was. Inspiration right in front of my eyes.

Opening my frame of Annika on my twelfth birthday.

This frame was given to me for my twelfth birthday. I remember opening up the wrapping paper like it was yesterday. It was the first time I ever teared up opening a gift. All my life, Annika has been a symbol of my dream. It’s not ironic at all that she is just above my head every night when I go to sleep. I have idolized the way she plays the game, the records she has broken, and now the way she gives back to the next generation.

In 2010, a dream of mine came true. Through the U.S. Kids Program, Annika came to a local golf shop to meet our local juniors and give a quick lesson. I was ecstatic. I was blown away by her poise, her confidence, and her ability to connect with us. She asked the audience, “would anyone like to hit a shot for me?” Without any thought, my hand shot up as fast as a rocket taking off for outer space. Then she pointed at me and, in her authentic Swedish accent, said, “yes, you.”

My first time meeting Annika at the U.S. Kids clinic.

I stood up and walked toward the hitting bay, and with every step, my heart rate increased tenfold. By the time she handed me the six iron, I was convinced everyone in the audience could see my sweater fluttering. I was about to swing in front of my idol!

As I placed the Callaway golf ball on the turf, I heard Annika’s voice from behind me say, “let’s see it.” It was go time, and with all the adrenaline running through my veins, I purred one of the best six irons I had ever hit. From that day forward, every time I pulled out a six iron from my bag, I call it The Annika Six.

A few years later, I began playing in AJGA (American Junior Golf Association) tournaments. Through the AJGA, Annika hosts an Invitational in which the top 100 or so junior girls are invited. When I saw this tournament, a new dream was born. I had to get there.

At age fifteen, I found myself teeing it up at Reunion Resort for my first Annika Invitational. The week was filled with different activities from a clinic with Annika, an awards dinner, a session with a sports psychologist, and a little hula dancing with the Hall of Famer. I quickly realized what she meant by her slogan, “More Than Golf.”

My first time at the Annika Invitational.

By the conclusion of my junior career, I played in the Annika Invitational two times. It was the event I looked forward to every year. Despite never walking away with the trophy, I always left filled with more and more inspiration in my heart.

Hula dancing at the Annika Invitational

Right now, as I lay in my bed writing this, I no longer worry about the question my sister posed on Easter Sunday. I know my inspiration lies right above my head. I am thankful for the impact Annika has had on my life and the opportunities she’s forged for young dreamers like myself. I dream one day I will have mastered the game of golf like Annika, but more importantly, inspired others the way she has inspired me.

I know right now can be a tough time to find inspiration or motivation, but take a moment to think back to what first ignited your dreams. There is a fire within us all, and perhaps right now, it needs some sparks to reignite the flame. But, maybe all it will take is a quick trip down memory lane to rejuvenate your heart and fill you with motivation to keep pushing towards your dream.

Annika and I at the awards dinner for my first Annika Invitational.