Ericka Schneider always has tried to find the bright side to any situation — even those that at first glance may appear to be rather bleak.
Such was the case last month as the Lakewood Ranch High alum patiently sat listening to the results of the July 7-11 qualifier for the Walmart First Tee Open. With all but one of the spots already filled, Schneider began making a list of congratulatory responses to dole out to her friends.
“I was just happy that a lot of my friends were going, and if I didn’t get picked, then it wasn’t meant to be,” Schneider said.
Unbeknownst to Schneider, the organizers of the event had purposely decided to call Schneider’s name last, knowing full well that the 18-year-old could take the joke.
Schneider was one of 22 junior golfers selected to participate in the First Tee Open, which will be held Sept. 4-6 at Pebble Beach, marking the second consecutive year that Schneider has made the cut.
“I was very happy, and I feel so blessed to be able to go again,” Schneider said.
However, Schneider’s celebration was cut somewhat short July 13 when a car accident left her with a broken collarbone — forcing her to take a break from the game she loves.
“With this injury, I’ve seen how quickly golf can be taken away,” Schneider said. “So now, I just want to go out and have as much fun as I possibly can and count my blessings while I’m there.”
Schneider began playing golf four years ago after deciding that she wanted to play a sport in high school. Since then, both Schneider’s skill level and passion for the game have blossomed.
This fall, Schneider will attend Daytona State College on a full golf scholarship. And although Schneider is eager to begin playing for the Falcons, her ultimate goal is to go pro.
“I want to be the ambassador for girls golf for First Tee,” Schneider said. “They don’t really have a face on the LPGA tour who represents them, and my goal is to be that girl.”
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