Allow HBCUs to thrive once more — Interview: Christyn Carr — Must-click women’s golf links
The IX: Golf Thursday with Addie Parker, February 17, 2022
The power of knowledge is a beautiful thing. Not only is it beautiful, but it’s essential to the development of society. Less than 200 years ago, anti-literacy laws were set in place to prevent teaching slaves how to read and write. People were literally put to death over the ability to educate and attain knowledge. But despite being threatened with jail time or being lynched, Black people found a way to educate themselves and even went as far as establishing their own institutions of higher education. Historically Black Colleges and Universities, more commonly referred to as HBCUs, have been the pinnacle of what it means to be Black and educated since 1837.
Cheyney University, in Pennsylvania, was the first HBCU to be established in the US. Its goal was to educate people of African descent, so that one day they can go on to teach others the knowledge and skills they acquired. Throughout the second half of the 19th century and into the 20th century, HBCUs became the primary institutions that allowed Blackness to thrive. What started on the basis of education, grew into something that was at the heart of the Black community. HBCUs are riddled with values and traditions that every Black person can relate to even if they didn’t attend one themselves.
For almost 80 years, HBCUs were solely responsible for creating Black doctors, dentists, engineers, mathematicians, and so on. But once predominantly white institutions (PWIs) allowed Black student admittance — a shift occurred.
For starters, the measure of success of Black people will always begin with their proximity to white people. How we talk, what we wear, where we go to school, all of those things are compared to our white counterparts. The same white supremacist ideology that created and passed anti-literacy laws, is the same ideology that leads us to believe that a degree from Harvard is more valuable than a degree from Howard. Knowledge is knowledge, but we can all agree that there’s a disparity within our education system. I’ll give you a hint as to where the disparity came from — begins with s and ends with y.
But over time, Black people began to explored other avenues, new struggles of systemic racism manifested and here we are in 2022 asking ourselves, what more can we do?
United Airlines began the important work of moving towards helping HBCUs thrive again. Last week I had linked two articles, one from the LPGA and the other from the Golf Channel, that highlight the United Airlines grant initiative being awarded to 51 HBCU golf programs across the country.
The president of United, Brett Hart, spoke on the purpose of this initiative, “removing barriers for HBCU students to have the same opportunities given to other collegiate athletes will open doors for countless young Black golfers to achieve their dreams and for HBCU golf programs to develop to their full potential. United is committed to advancing inclusion and racial equity and that begins with making meaningful mentorship and scholarship investments in the communities we serve.”
This half-million dollar initiative will award each program with $10,000 to help fund travel, aid in recruiting efforts, and more.
The foundation of real progress for these programs begins with this. This is what it means to create opportunities and space for Black and brown people in golf. It’s not recycling through the same four Black women every February, it’s not putting little Black girls on a poster for Girls Golf, it’s about opening your wallets and giving money.
United and the PGA aren’t alone in their efforts to grow the game. Over the years, other celebrities and athletes have donated money, given commencement speeches, and hosted events at HBCUs across the country. Last year, NBA star Steph Curry, announced his plan to provide six years worth of funding for the men and women’s programs at Howard University. His donation has been estimated to worth several million dollars, for the school to be re-endowed at the Division-I level.
Some believe that money doesn’t buy happiness or that it can’t guarantee success — but it doesn’t hurt that’s for sure.
Since their establishment, HBCUs have struggled financially. As PWIs began to accept more Black students and eventually desegregate all together, some HBCUs have had to close their doors, while others have lost their federal funding. So this opportunity is a good thing — hell, it’s a great thing! These programs deserve to participate in tournaments and compete against other conferences to gain exposure so they can continue to grow. We can’t expect more Black women on tour if we aren’t giving Black girls the avenues necessary to reach the professional level.
This is only the beginning, there’s still more work to be done (as always). Let’s rejoice in this moment for these students and their programs because this is monumental. But we have to keep applying pressure to the PGA and LPGA as organizations, continue invest in our own communities, and do the ground work to inspire the next generation to pick up a club and PLAY.
“Your ancestors took the lash, the branding iron, humiliations, and oppression because one day they believed you would come along to flesh out the dream.”— Maya Angelou
This week in women’s golf
If you have links you wish to share, sources for golf news, or want to talk about anything at all, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org ! Discussion of any kind is always welcomed…I mean it…MESSAGE ME!
The LPGA is on hiatus for another 2 weeks, so it’s a light news week, but there’s still some things to tap in to like this story featuring the exceptional journey by an ordinary person Avis Brown-Riley and her quick Q&A on LPGA.com
Another really good Q&A with Allison Edmonds of LPGA Amateurs
Recapping the winners from the first 3 events of the season…hard work defines early winners on the LPGA Tour
Hannah Green wins Vic Open, celebrates title with a ‘shoey’ …I mean, you have to love this!
Nelly Korda is a woman of the people!
Epson Tour News
Brynn Walker writes a thank you to Epson .
With the LPGA on a bit of a hiatus, the college scene has been popping off!
Stanford’s spring season debut happened, and they made a STATEMENT!
Rachel Heck went on to win the individual medalist title, and the team as a whole came in second behind San Jose State.
For all NCAA golf stats click here.
Full Golf, Interrupted conversation with Amaya and Addie (in case you want to follow up on last week’s Five at The IX)
Not quite a woman’s golf link but something you should still see…I’ve seen his TikToks but this video blew my mind! “Snappy Gilmore” has taken the golf world by storm:
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Five at The IX: Interview with Christyn Carr
Having a story on HBCUs and their developing golf programs would only be complete with an interview from one of those students! I had the absolute PLEASURE of chatting with a senior from North Carolina A&T, Christyn Carr, about her journey in golf, her experiences at an HBCU, and what she hopes to see these programs become in the future.
I saw a video that Christyn was featured in, along with LPGA pro Mariah Stackhouse, world long drive champion and Epson Tour player Alexis Belton, and Howard golf freshman Makenna Rodriguez. I was blown away by the camaraderie of the group and loved hearing each of their experiences and perspectives. Please take some time to watch these amazing young women and the impact that the great Renee Powell had on each of their journeys.
Christyn was born in Detroit but moved to Atlanta with her family, where her father was a teaching pro. The golf bug bite her early, and she’s been competing since the age of seven.
When it came down to crunch time though…she had hardly received many offers and she even considered walking away from golf completely. But, her weight-lifting coach was an NCAT alum and she fell in love with the culture.
Her story is beyond amazing — so please enjoy.
Q: Can you tell me a little bit about how you got into the sport?
CC: My dad is a teaching pro, and that’s kind of how I got into the game. My mom played as well. That’s how they met actually, my dad started teaching her.
She had her first hole in one while she was pregnant with me! I was born into it, but never pressured.
Q:What were your junior golf days like?
CC: When I was younger, I used to go to a golf camp in Atlanta, the Women’s Golf Foundation at Browns Mill — and that’s where I got started.
I left those camps and started to play in junior tournaments. I had been playing competitive competitively for a minute, but when I was really trying to take that next step forward, I connected with Mariah’s [Stackhouse] dad and worked with him for over a year.
I remember I would literally see her out there practicing all day, all the time, practicing these really hard drills and her dad would tell me she would miss school dances and I’m just like, I don’t know if that’s for me [laughs].
By the time I got to high school, I definitely went a different route in regards to my work ethic in the game, because I wanted to experience everything. Like, I wanted to do black history club, I wanted to do step team, I wanted to act. So I was able to, you know, dive into a bunch of other things.
But growing up I played in everything…US Kids, Atlanta junior golf, the Hurricane tour, AJGA — you name it. I played for my high school team and my freshman year, I ended up going to regions as an individual, because my team wasn’t good enough to make it. I ended up winning regionals as an individual, and I was about to go to state. However, after a day or two, I had realized that I used the golf buddy measuring device along with my rangefinder and in every amateur event they (the golf buddy) are allowed except high school. So I realized this, but no one else knew! I ended up calling it in myself, and I disqualified myself from state. It was crazy, I had to go through a playoff and everything but that’s kind of how things are. I have a huge conscience and golf is you know all about integrity. At the end of the day, like if you’re not proud of the person that you are and if you were dishonest, then that’s that’s not what the game is.
Everything happens for a reason. And I believe that God works everything out for the better. And I ended up winning my junior year as an individual and my team was able to win my senior year as well. So yeah, I would not have had it any other way.
Q:Walk me through your college deciding process. Did you always see yourself at an HBCU? What was it about A&T that drew you in?
CC: Before I graduated high school, I think I was ranked as a top 10 player in the state and like top seven in my grad class, so I didn’t know why I wasn’t being recruited — which was a part of the reason why I was ready to be done.
I never saw myself going to an HBCU, just because people are my school didn’t really good HBCUs, you know? But, you know, I’ve been playing golf all these years and I’m just like, how am I just gonna just be done with it? Um, so I really don’t know what changed my mind.
My dad was always pushing me to play, obviously, but they I think they both [my parents] came to a point to where they understood. I was burnt out at that point, I had just won state my junior year and I was over it. And then senior year, I can’t even tell you how many emails I sent out to different schools and different coaches, and I guess at that point, I was probably a little bit too late, but I was waiting on them.
When you start playing junior golf, they’ll start sending you letters. So in my mind, I’m like, oh, I’m getting all these letters from these big schools — I’m good! When my senior year came, I was like, oh, wait a minute. I haven’t committed anywhere, they don’t have spots for freshmen. But at the same time, going into my senior year, I was 100% okay with not playing in college. And I really honestly didn’t want to play at an HBCU because of the stigma surrounding the programs. My previous experience with those programs was when I had helped out at an HBCU golf tournament for women. And I was just like “I can’t do this, I didn’t want to go to a starting up program”.
That’s what I thought HBCU golf was. And when I got in contact with my coach [at NCAT], I realized that’s not what it was. Granted, my team was not black. When I came to the school, there were two black girls on the team. And one of them did not play. My the team, A&T’s team, before I came was mainly white. They had an Asian girl and a girl from Venezuela but there were no Black people. So even me choosing an HBCU, I was going on to a team really being one of the first Black girls on the team and that to me, was a little bit confusing. It was kind of a turn off.
But I really, really fell in love with the campus. I fell in love with the school and I was like “I’m home” and I thought to myself that this was good for me to be able to get around really my own people and learn how to talk to my own people. Because I mean, that was hard for me growing up in golf. And I felt like I needed to step out of my comfort zone. And that’s kind of what happened. And since I’ve been here, the team has changed so much. Our team looks completely different than it did my freshman year.
The deciding factor for me was definitely coming to the campus and seeing what it was about. And also realizing I didn’t want to quit college golf. I didn’t want to quit golf at all by the time I got to college — I was just discouraged. Because I felt like all the work that I put in to play college golf was not coming through for me.
But like I said, by having that weight training coach being on the phone with my now golf coach, on the first day of class, I was ready and I was like okay, I see. I see what’s going on. I’m supposed to go to this school.
Q:What do you hope comes out of the grant money being given to HBCU golf programs?
CC: You know Hampton’s golf team (in Virginia) got cut. With COVID and everything, a few HBCU golf teams got cut. So what our coach did and what a lot of schools had to do was to cut down on travel.
We started playing a lot of tournaments in North Carolina, whereas normally we would go to Florida or something. We tried to stay in NC as much as possible so that was one change. But with this grant, we’re able to go travel again. We have a tournament in Kentucky coming up and now we’re able to go. We don’t have our own team bus and no one wants to rent a van like or a huge holiday bus because that’s money from the program. So it definitely helps, it is so amazing to be able to have their support and also makes it easier for us to get from place to place and not have to travel for 15 hours with a whole bunch of people in a van. So it’s definitely amazing.
I think what we’re utilizing that [money] a little bit this semester, because spring is really where we tend to travel a lot and that makes it easier on us and on the coaches. So yeah, I think that’s really just for HBCU golf in general to be able to travel and be able to play with different teams and gain more experience and exposure. Fortunately for A&T, we’re in the Big South now we’ve been able to be invited to play in different tournaments with PWIs and what not. But that’s not the same case for all HBCUs.
Q:How would you describe your HBCU experience in a sentence?
CC: It has exceeded my expectations.
I’m that person that never thought I would end up going to an HBCU to be completely transparent. Before coming to an HBCU, I always thought HBCUs didn’t give as good education as PWIs. I didn’t think that my dorm would be that nice. I didn’t think that the school would look that nice. I didn’t think that we would have all the resources and technology like other schools. And when I saw A&T, and I mean, I’m all down for A&T, I think A&T is the best HBCU in the country, not just because I go here. But just because the opportunities I’ve been able to get here, I would have never have gotten at a PWI, and that’s not just about golf and nursing, that’s just everything in general, even being able to go out and do that segment with Bradford [Wilson] and Skratch, that would not have happened if I were at a PWI. There’s just no way.
It [A&T] really has exceeded my expectations. Earlier I said, I can’t imagine going to HBCU, now I’m like I can’t imagine if I didn’t go to an HBCU.
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