Dec
24
2013
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from WUP!
By Stephanie Wei under General

photo (1)Dear Readers,

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and your families and loved ones. Hope you had a joyous day and a wonderful year. Many thanks for all the support and memories and I look forward to making new, even better ones in 2014.

2013 was a pretty darn incredible year for golf. How about all those exciting finishes at the majors? I haven’t been covering golf very long, but it was the most memorable one with regard to compelling stories, amazing comebacks and inspiring victories. 

Every year, I feel luckier to be covering sport, particularly golf. I say this year year, but I feel incredibly fortunate to have shared my musing and adventures with you. Thanks so much for following along — after all, it’s about providing the best info for you guys.

If I’m being honest — 2013 was a bit stagnant in terms of personal WUP growth, but if all goes as planned (fingers crossed), 2014 will be filled with bigger and better things that will eclipse the past four-or-so years combined. Stay tuned for a new website launch in early January!

All the best and with love,

Stephanie

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This is a bit random, but as some of you may know, I was inducted into my high school (The Overlake School) Athletics Hall of Fame this past hall. The induction ceremony coincided with the Web.com Tour Championship, which I had been planning on covering, but after giving it some thought — i.e. how many hall of fames are you going to be inducted into, etc.? — I changed my flight and headed home to Bellevue, Wash. (or Redmond, where Overlake is).

I’d meant to post my acceptance speech at the time, but didn’t get around to it, so I was thinking, why not do it now? No one’s stopping me, anyway! Please note the inflections and that it was meant to be spoken…

Thanks so much, Judy (Adrian), for that wonderful introduction. 

Judy was the best coach we could ever ask for, and mind you, the hippest. I remember during my senior year, she was driving us (the team) to 2001 State up in Bellingham and what does she have in her CD drive? Nappy Roots. 

Speaking of the team, they’re here tonight, Cara McEvoy, Lisa Wolf and Jamie Weaver — thanks for coming. I love how we turned this into a mini high-school golf team reunion. Our entire team should be up here with me tonight as fellow inductees into the Hall of Fame — which Bob Bristol has already implied *will* happen at some point and I’m going to hold him to that! — and I was going to ask them to come and join me. But in the interest of time — and they don’t appear too thrilled with that idea — I’d like them to stand up, as they deserve this honor as much as I do. 

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We won State two years in a row and were pretty much undefeated — right, Judy? — all season in 2001 and probably 2000. It means a lot to me that Cara, Lisa, and Jamie are here tonight. We had so much fun senior year. In fact, we were so close and had so much to say to each other that Judy would have to separate us on the practice putting green at times.

Other golf memories from Overlake? Well, they range from learning how to play golf in a swamp, otherwise known as Carnation. We became experts at changing our clothes in our cars in parking lots from our school clothes to golf clothes. We even shopped together as a team at Abercrombie & Fitch, where we managed to find proper golf attire, yet still match. And thanks to Lisa, we were known to wear ribbons in our hair at times, too. 

I’d also like to thank Amy Wang, who is very pregnant, yet she’s here to support me tonight. Years ago in middle school and high school and especially during the summer, she was my practice buddy and I don’t know if I could have survived without her company during those 100-hour practice weeks. OK, maybe not quite 100, but we had some long days grinding on our games at Glendale. We’d always manage to find a way to pass the time, and, well, we gossiped like the teenagers we were almost the entire time. Our parents weren’t big fans of us practicing together because of this — we would have too much fun! Do you see a theme here? (Laughter)

Many, many thanks, of course, to my mom and stepdad, Theresa and Hank, for introducing me to the game and pushing me to practice and compete. 

Golf  — as Judy mentioned — is still something that’s a big part of my life, if not, my entire life and perhaps more now than I was as a kid. It’s work and play. I’m incredibly lucky to have been able to implement golf and create a job that I love and a passion of mine for about all but those five or so years after college that I took some much-needed time away from it. 

But, of course, I eventually came crawling back. 

I was at a student at Overlake from 5th to 12th grade — yes, the entire middle school and upper school. And yes, it was a *long* time to be here.

My freshman year there wasn’t a girls team, so I played on the boys team –until districts and state — and obviously as a freshman, I was a little intimidated and wasn’t sure how I’d be received especially playing in the no. 1 spot some of the time. Well, I have to say the guys at Overlake treated me with the utmost respect and like an equal, which meant the world to me — and it’s also a testament to the quality of kids that Overlake had. Especially looking back at it now. 

Overlake always encouraged individuality, creativity and innovation, and that you didn’t always have to take a traditional route. In fact, sometimes it felt like we were pushed to go with the unorthodox way, so, obviously, my somewhat bumpy but awesome and scenic road is all your fault, Overlake.

Point is, all those things I learned at Overlake has helped me reach where I am today.

I’d always been in progressive environments from here to Yale to corporate America in NYC, so I’d never personally experienced much overt, widespread sexism. Then, I entered the world of golf sports writing and let me tell you, that’s one heck of a combination and it doesn’t really get more “old boys club” than that. I’ve lost count of how many times I cried in the bathroom over those first few years when I was just starting out, but like everything else, it was a learning experience and I’ve only grown stronger and better for it. 

I had a lot to try out after college. I thought I wanted to be a lawyer, so I tried my hand as a paralegal right out of college for over a year. Then, I was an analyst in private equity. Oh, by the way, I never even finished Calculus while I was here. Next, I dabbled in fashion, PR, event planning and finally, partying, before I figured out how much I missed golf. 

A few months ago, when I was asked if I was attending this ceremony, I checked the dates and figured I’d have a work conflict. It turned out I did — and it was an event I was looking forward to covering — but I started asking myself, “How many Hall of Fames are you going to get inducted into in your life?” Um, “one.” 

I wasn’t sure what you say in an acceptance speech, but I can say I’m incredibly honored and humbled to be inducted into Overlake’s Athletics Hall of Fame. I knew, though, that once I started talking, it’d be more than easy for me to take up more than six minutes of your life that you’ll never get back.

Fred Couples, also a Seattle native, was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame earlier this year. You see the connection already, don’t you? World Golf Hall of Fame. Overlake Athletics Hall of Fame. Same thing! (Laughter)

I took my first lessons at Jefferson Park, where Freddie played as a kid, and I remember the teaching pro showing me all these awards and titles Freddie had won, along with a picture of him winning the Masters. He sounded like a cool dude, too.

I watched his speech when he was initially inducted, but I actually Googled it when I was trying to figure out what to say here tonight, and re-watched it for inspiration. I think it worked. Because Couples was an inspiration to me and I’m really not sure where I got the writing/reporting one, but for golf, it was Freddie who inspired me to take up the game, and indirectly, eventually to start my career in journalism.  

This wonderful ceremony tonight may not be the World Golf Hall of Fame, but to me, it’s even better, not to mention humbling. Thank you. 

(Original top photo by Mike Altobello)