By: Joel Baell
Amy Bockerstette became the first person with Down syndrome to compete in a national collegiate athletic championship.
Bockerstette, 22, teed off Monday at the National Junior College Athletic Association national championship at Plantation Bay Golf & Country Club in Ormond Beach, Fla., representing Phoenix’s Paradise Valley Community College.
A Special Olympian in Arizona, Bockerstette catapulted to stardom when she was given the chance to play a practice-round hole with Gary Woodland at the 2019 Waste Management Phoenix Open. At TPC Scottsdale’s par-3 16th, Bockerstette made a “Did you see that?” up-and-down for par, telling Woodland “I got this” before sinking an eight-foot putt. A performance, wrapped in Bockerstette’s indelible positivity and Woodland’s sincere joy, that went viral twice: the week of the Phoenix Open and again after Woodland won the U.S. Open later that year.
But Amy and her story have not been confined to 15 minutes of fame. Amy is now a spokesperson for the Special Olympics. She’s made TV appearances, thrown out first pitches and was the keynote speaker for the 2019 National Down Syndrome Congress Annual Convention where she received a standing ovation for her speech. On her 21st birthday, Amy opened the “I Got This” Foundation, its mission to promote golf instruction and playing opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities.https://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.457.0_debug_en.html#goog_685650650PlayUnmuteCurrent Time 0:02/Duration 0:15Loaded: 0% Fullscreen
“What started as this sweet, five-minute clip has spring-boarded into a pursuit for Amy,” her father, Joe, told Golf Digest. “She encapsulates so much good, and this endeavor will make sure we keep spreading as much as that feeling as possible.”
Bockerstette finished her first round on Monday with a 111 score. She is in her third year with the Paradise Valley Community College program. Bockerstette made history when she joined the team, becoming the first person with Down syndrome to earn an athletic scholarship.