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Heroes

Amy Bockerstette is the first athlete with Down syndrome to compete in a collegiate championship

Amy Bockerstette is the first athlete with Down syndrome to compete in a collegiate championship
via AmyGolfsandDances / Twitter

Golfer Amy Bockerstette made history three years ago when she became the first person with Down syndrome to earn a full college athletic scholarship.

Now, she's making history again by being the first person with Down syndrome to compete in a national collegiate athletic championship.

Bockerstette and her teammates from Paradise Valley Community College in Phoenix, Arizona will be playing at the NJCAA national championships May 10-13 at Plantation Bay Golf & Country Club in Ormond Beach, Florida.



Bockerstette's golfing career started in the eight grade when she impressed her school's golf coach so much, he told her parents she should play for the school's team. Boy was he right.

In high school, Bockerstette qualified for the Arizona state high school tournament twice and was named one of the AZCentral.com's "Ten Most Intriguing High School Athletes of 2017."

AzCentral praised her ability to hit from the tee saying that she "launched shots 200 yards down the middle of fairways." It also praised her infectious attitude calling her a "4-foot-9 girl full of sunshine."

Bockerstette is an active Special Olympian who competes in golf, swimming, and volleyball and plays Challenger baseball. She also is very musical, she studies dance in college and plays the piano.

In January 2019, Bockerstette became a viral sensation after her performance on the par-3 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale. During the Tuesday practice round at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, she was invited to play as a Special Olympics representative and was teamed with professional golfer Gary Woodland and playing partner Matt Kuchar.

Bockersette hit her tee shot into a greenside bunker. But recovered nicely with a spectacular chip shot out of the sand, rolling the ball to within eight feet of the cup. Confidently stating "I got this," she then made the put to the roar of the crowd.

Video of her fantastic performance went viral amassing over 43 million views.

Gary Woodland surprises Amy from Special Olympics Arizona 2019www.youtube.com

"I've been blessed to do lot of cool things on the golf course but that is by far the coolest thing I've ever experienced," Woodland told Golf.com. "She was phenomenal. And then to step up in front of all the people and the crowd and everything and to hit the shots that she hit and made par, I never rooted so hard for somebody on a golf course and it was an emotional, emotional, really cool experience."

Bockersette's confident declaration of "I got this" became a rallying cry for people with Down syndrome and their advocates. The comment spawned the I Got This Foundation, an organization created by Bockersette and her family that provides opportunities for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities to play golf.

Bockerstette is a wonderful example of what can happen with people with disabilities are given the chance to participate in sports. Her visibility as a golfer is a great way to encourage others with Down syndrome to get into the sport and is also a wake-up call to the sport's gatekeepers to be more inclusive.

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