Wednesday, June 19, 2019

"I got this." Amy Bockerstette, Golfer

Detail of the golf ball of Amy Bockerstette, a 20-year-old golfer with Down syndrome. (Photo: Rob Schumacher, The Arizona Republic-USA TODAY NETWORK)

Gary Woodland won the US Open on Father's Day, 2019, at Pebble Beach.  This win was his first victory in a major tournament, and many golf fans did not know him at all, or they knew him from a video clip of him meeting Amy Bockerstette, the first student with Down's Syndrome to win a full athletic scholarship for golf. Gary and Amy played the 16th hole at The Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale,  the most difficult par 3 on the course - and her drive landed in the side bunker.  Gary generously offered to hit the ball out for her, but she refused, saying, "I got this." After hitting the ball within 8 feet of the pin, she repeated her mantra of "I got this," and holed the putt. 

What an attitude!  So positive, so confident, and so in the moment. Amy had lessons for all of us.  She showed the viewing public that no restrictions should be placed on any person because of a disability. Amy reminded us that the little engine that could was right - keep thinking "I think I can", and your dream can come true. Amy taught us to adjust our thinking about people with disabilities, and to look at them in a new light, focusing on what they CAN do, rather than on what they CANNOT do.  Amy Bockerstette is truly someone special, and I wish she would have been my student!

Gary's new friend Amy was just part of his inspiration to keep grinding at the US Open, even when being threatened by 2-time US Open champion Brooks Koepka and the famous Justin Rose, among others who came within a few strokes of his amazing performance.  After his win, Gary immediately made a FaceTime call to Amy. He told her that her positive energy and thinking of her helped him win!  Amy and Gary truly have a remarkable and special friendship.  Here is the link to the FaceTime call 

Gary appeared on the TODAY Show to surprise Amy, who was already on set, and he talked candidly about how Amy's inspiration helped him to win the tournament. He said "It's her love for life,'' Woodland told TODAY. "Life's not always bells and whistles, it's not always going to be great, but your energy's contagious.That's the only thing you can control, your attitude, and she controls her attitude beautifully. I learned a lot from her that day (in Phoenix). I was more nervous for her on that day than I was playing at any time last week. She executed under the gun, under pressure, people all around her. It was a special day." (Quotes from this link - see the beautiful story here) 

As my readers know, I taught high school English and Theater for 37 years and coached Varsity Golf (first girls, then boys) for 33 years. I write many articles and posts about how golf teaches us life lessons of patience, humility, persistence, and self-control. However, NEVER, in my 33 years of coaching, 38 years of serving on the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League, and working with both the West Penn Golf Association and the USGA, have I seen such an inspirational story that teaches us about believing in ourselves and appreciation the talents of others, and living our lives without limitations being placed on our abilities. 

The whole world now knows who Amy is!  I feel fortunate to know her through the beautiful clips I have seen on her, and I will be following her on Twitter to keep up with her amazing and positive life. Now, the entire world also knows who Gary Woodland is - a man who met a special friend who inspired him so much, that he had to share that inspiration with the universe.  Thank you, Gary and Amy, for your life lessons of friendship and staying positive.  You are two champions in my book.  And by the way, when something impossible comes my way, Amy - "I GOT THIS!" 

#Golf #LifeLessons #BelieveInYourself  

If you missed the original video of Amy and Gary meeting at the Phoenix Open, here it is.

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions. 
Rittman Publishing, LLC ®

Please invite Grady Gets Glasses (and me) into your school.  if you are not in the Pittsburgh area, we do virtual field trips with a group called Field Trip Zoom.  GRADY GETS GLASSES was the winner of Best New Children's Book 2016 and 2018 (new edition) from The Authors' Zone.Grady also won a 2018 prestigious Moonbeam Award for Best Children's Book with Merchandise.

Visit Dede's webpage for complete details on her award-winning book, STUDENT TEACHING: THE INSIDE SCOOP FROM A MASTER TEACHER. Many colleges have made the book required readingSigned copies are available Dede is also a national speaker on The Three C's for Classroom success: Confidence, communication, and Creativity; Avoiding Teacher burnout; and many other inspirational topics. 

I LOVE writing. And I love writing children's books- my newest passion. Although it will be a ton of work, I am looking forward to selling my books.  Since I was a secondary teacher, I know that I have much to learn about elementary students, and I will have to follow my own advice and be my genuine self.  However, I also know that I am passionate about helping kids who have to wear glasses, and that GRADY GETS GLASSES sends a positive message. I am willing to work hard and do all the things that also made me a successful teacher for 37 years. I remain inspired! 

Elementary teachers in Western Pennsylvania and beyond - I am willing to come into your classroom in person or as a virtual field trip through a group called Field Trip Zoom.  Check them out! 

Teacher friends- let me know if you want me to read GRADY GETS GLASSES at your school. I am willing to come in to discuss the creative writing process, why writing is important, and personal fulfillment through writing, along with reading my book.  I would appreciate the exposure, and I would make signed copies available for purchase in your classrooms following the reading.  Please email me at  The website now has plush Grady bunnies for sale!
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