Golfer Makes History as First Person With Down Syndrome to Enter NJCAA National Championship
Golfer Amy Bockerstette, 22, has made history as the first person with Down syndrome to enter a national collegiate athletic championship. Yet, far from feeling the nerves, she claimed she was simply excited.
On May 10, the Arizona-raised athlete and her team entered the 3-day National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) women’s golf national championship at Plantation Bay Golf & Country Club in Ormond Beach, Florida.
An excited Amy told People, “I am very happy to be here. [My] dad does get nervous, though.”
After a tournament marked by humid weather and stiff competition, Amy finished 108th out of 113 golfers.
“Generally speaking, she hit the ball really well all week and hit very few poor shots,” Amy’s dad, Joe Bockerstette, told ABC News. “It was a true test,” the proud father, who is also Amy’s caddie, continued. “I was just very, very happy with how she played.”
Teammate Amber Daczka told AZ Family that the sophomore from Paradise Valley Community College gives her goosebumps. “We’re really proud of her … It’s not about the score for Amy,” she explained. “It’s about the relationship with the person she’s playing [with].”
However, Amy is really no stranger to firsts.
As a Sandra Day O’Connor High School junior in 2017, she was the first Arizona student with Down syndrome to play in the state high school golf playoffs.
She then became the first person with Down syndrome to receive a college athletics scholarship to Paradise Valley Community College in Phoenix the following year.
One of Amy’s biggest motivations is promoting the game she loves. Her nonprofit, I Got This Foundation provides tailored golfing instruction to people with Down syndrome and other intellectual disabilities.
The nonprofit took its name from a statement Amy uttered while playing the 16th hole with pro-golfer Gary Woodland at the Waste Management Phoenix Open in 2019. Claiming, “I got this,” to her golfing hero, she made the par and the catchphrase stuck.
“The world needs a lot more of Amy,” Woodland later told Today. “Her attitude, her energy is contagious.”
The young trailblazer is keen to spread her confidence to others with Down syndrome, insisting that their dreams are within reach. “Just breathe and believe! You can do this! You got this!” she told People.
For Amy’s parents, Joe and Jenny, seeing their daughter play at the national level has convinced them not to put limits on a child with Down syndrome, and their ambitious daughter is not done yet. After completing college, Amy has her sights set on a career in either golf or music.
Perhaps, she reflected, she’ll combine the two.
“My big dream is to play golf with Niall Horan,” she said. “My dream foursome is Niall Horan, Nick Jonas, Zac Efron and I want to play with Gary Woodland, too.”
Watch the video:
(Courtesy of Christina Hundley, PVCC)