Interview with Emily Palmieri by Heather Dobisch, both from CB South
Video by Carly D'Angelo from CB West
• When and why did you start golfing?
o I started golfing at the age of seven (2nd grade) with my dad because I found the sport really interesting. At that time I was in a lot of dancing school and I realized that I didn’t have a sport that I could enjoy like some of my friends. I knew that growing up it was important to be well rounded, and I wanted to find my “sporty side.” Golf seemed like the perfect sport for me because I wasn’t necessarily the tallest or fastest in my grade, and I really enjoyed the fact that your result was completely based off of your own performance.
• What's your favorite thing about golf?
o I love a lot of things about golf! I love that it is a lifetime sport. You can play the sport from early childhood well into adulthood. I also love that it gave me an opportunity to spend more time with my dad, and I look forward to the time that I will spend with my own kids in the future, as I share my love for the sport. Something that I really do find intriguing about it though is the fact that your success and sadly sometimes your failure is completely based off of your own performance. Your opponents have no impact on your score, unlike in any other sport. Your fate lies in your own hands, and all you can do in a tournament is go out and play your best. Also with more hard work you can grow your skill set which will lead to more success.
• What are opportunities that you get as a golfer that others might not get?
o As a golfer in general I get to visit a lot of different courses all over the country. I’ve seen some really beautiful courses and I’ve even had the opportunity to play on some courses that were designed by some of the greatest golfers of all time such as Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, and Tom Watson. It is a fun challenge to play on their courses because they are all in such fantastic condition and they are all really challenging because they are built to challenge the best players out there, which puts more pressure on you to perform. As a golfer for CB South I had the opportunity first of all to break a record and create a statistic in the school’s history as the first, and only, girl to ever play on the team which was all-male, and also qualify for the Suburban One League District Tournament. While playing on the team I was able to travel and compete against the other schools on their courses, occasionally facing female opponents in rare instances. Also it was a privilege to leave school early to enjoy a warm and sunny afternoon, playing a sport I was extremely passionate about.
• If you are the only girl on the team, what was it like being the only girl on the team? What kind of relationship do you have with your team mates?
o I’ve been the only girl on the team for all four of my years and I was a bit nervous to try out in my freshman year. I had just transferred into Central Bucks South and I didn’t know anyone in the entire school, let alone anyone trying out for the team. When I made it I had a mix of more nerves but also some excitement as I realized that I’d be playing alongside of 18 boys that were all mostly older than me. Despite my nerves, I wasn’t shy and I immediately started making friends with the boys. Within a few weeks I’d gained 18 brothers, and that year especially they were all very supportive and protective of me. For the most part my teammates were like this in my four years of experience. Of course there were always a few that weren’t supportive, or didn’t enjoy having a girl playing on the same team and occasionally beating them, but I did my best to peacefully coexist and get the most out of it. At the end of the day we were all after the same victory for South. I always also made it a point that I wanted to be viewed as an equal. I never wanted any special treatment because I was “the girl.” I made sure to establish myself as a serious competitor, but I always did so with a positive attitude and a smile. Even the boys that were unsure about playing with a girl recognized my dedication and commitment to the team, and we were all able to put our differences aside and play for our team that we were so proud of.
• What was going through your mind when you found out you qualified for Districts?
o When I qualified for districts I was completely shocked. I honestly couldn’t believe it. I’d been trying to do it for 4 years but it just never worked out for me. That time of year is always a crazy time because it is when just about all of my activities overlap. I am wrapping up golf season, I’m right in the middle of my fall show with the Titan Thespians, my classes are just starting to get into the deeper material, I have regular select choirs and Southside A Cappella, and I have weekly dance lessons, so I have to balance it all in order to be present for as much of every activity as possible. This makes it extremely hard to get out to practice my game in between the school matches and everything else. Usually my game is in its prime during the earlier matches of the season when my weekends and some weeknights are free for me to run out for some practice on the range or short game center. I knew that I wouldn’t play up to those standards and I was having a harder day than I’d anticipated. The score you had to come in at didn’t leave much margin for error, and while I wasn’t playing extremely poorly, I had too many high numbers—I had no luck on my side. I never like to count my score as I play because I feel like it adds an unnecessary element of stress for me to deal with, and going into that hole, I figured that I was already so far out of the running that I might as well just enjoy the end of the round. It was supposed to be my last hole in my high school golf career and I wanted to end it on a positive note. It came down to the last putt, although at the time I didn’t know what that stroke was worth. I made my way up to the green, with my mom standing off to the side and my moderator and playmates not far behind me. I never ever hit the ball without lining it up and making absolutely sure that I know how I’m going to hit it, but I stepped right up to that ball, and I just sank it with zero hesitation. When my moderator who was keeping track told me that that putt was what got me into districts I almost fell over. I could not believe that it came down to the last one and I wasn’t really even thinking about it. I honestly believe that I sank it because I was feeling no pressure at all, which was an amazing experience. I was super excited and honored to have the opportunity to continue on in the competition with that sweet moment in my memory forever. Whether I qualified for the next tournament or not at districts, I knew that I’d always have that fond memory to look back on with a smile.
• What advice would you give to some interested in playing golf at school?
o I would say absolutely do it. If you have a passion for the sport and you can make the commitment to the team there should not be anything holding you back from continuing what you love to do in high school. I think the girls that consider it eventually decide not to pursue it because they become intimidated by the boys. It can be intimidating to be around them if you don’t interact with them and form friendships. You just have to establish yourself with them so that everyone feels comfortable, and then you can all compete for the good of the team. Once you establish yourself as a competitor, they will view you as a serious asset to the team, and they will be glad to have another reliable player to contribute. If you have a passion for something you shouldn’t let anything stand in your way of pursuing it.
• What are your plans for the future? Are you hoping to golf in college?
o I will definitely continue to play golf for the rest of my life and pass it on to my children and grandchildren so that I can share my passion with them. As far as college is concerned I would love to play on a team or be involved with a club sport at my school. All of the schools I’m considering have female golf teams and facilities available so there are plenty of opportunities for me to take advantage of golf at the collegiate level. I’m very fortunate to have been accepted to schools that will allow me to continue my passion in some form for the next four years of my college career.