Emily Nash '23 was unexpectedly pulled out of class and directed to the principal's office. She hadn't done anything wrong, but a fleet of news vehicles and live trucks had descended on tiny Lunenburg High School. The reporters were all there to speak to Nash...
During her junior year of high school, Emily Nash '23 started receiving fan mail for a tournament she won, but didn't actually win. The letters came from young girls who called her an inspiration. They came from fans in her hometown of Lunenburg, Massachusetts, and they came all over the country. They came from her idols and professional golfers. And one letter came from a former U.S. Secretary of State.
"Keep your chin up, keep up the great work, and keep playing the sport you love. Onward! With best wishes and warm regards, I am sincerely yours."
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Nash graduated with a class of no more than 100 students. Her high school wasn't big enough to field a girls golf team, but Nash was invited to play with the boys. In October of 2017, Nash and her teammates were playing through nasty conditions at the Central Massachusetts Division 3 boys golf tournament. Nash's game is particularly suited for the wind and rain. Playing from the same tees as the boys, she fired an impressive 75. It turned out to be the low round of the tournament.
The fact that Nash beat the boys would have been a big local story. The fact that Nash was subsequently robbed of the title made it a huge national story. During the awards ceremony, the trophy and the berth in the boys individual state tournament were presented to the second best golfer that day. According to Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association rules (at the time), girls could play in the boys team tournaments, but were not eligible to compete in the individual tournaments. The runner-up scored the trophy and tried to give it to Nash. But, rules are rules (no matter how obtuse they may be). The story appeared in the newspaper the next day. Later that morning, the news crews arrived at the high school.
Nash, by nature, tries to avoid the spotlight. But when Ellen Degeneres is calling, there's no escaping your 15 minutes. Ellen wanted Nash for her talk show, the Today Show and Good Morning America tried to book her as well. Nash, and her family, decided it wasn't best to miss school on a publicity tour, but she did have an important story to tell. She gave an interview to Golfweek and appeared on a segment on the Golf Channel. Then the letters came... and then a phone call.
Nash got a text message from her dad, "I just want to make sure your phone is on." He knew she would hate to miss the call that was coming. A few minutes later, Nash was in the car with friends when an unfamiliar number appeared on her cell. It was Annika Sorenstam - one of the most successful professional golfers of all time. Sorenstam wanted to congratulate Nash and share her own story of playing with the boys and being denied due respect. She also invited Nash to participate in her tournament in Florida. Years before, Nash briefly met Sorenstam and scored a fan pic. This time, Sorenstam was the fan.
Nash may consider playing professionally, but if it doesn't work, she hopes to always be involved with the sport. She wants to own her own golf academy. She wants to help girls pursue their dream of playing in college. She wants to help them with their game and create more opportunities for women's golf to grow. In many ways, she's already begun. In Massachusetts, girls are now eligible to qualify for the boys individual state tournament.
Nash played her freshman season of college golf at Elon University in North Carolina. She figured she could golf year-round in the South, but it still gets cold in the winter in North Carolina. The pandemic gave Nash an opportunity to really think about what she wants from her college experience...
"I chose to transfer to Siena because of the golf program, business school and campus size. The golf coaches and facilities here are amazing, and I felt that under the guidance of Coach Dave Wronowski and Coach Mike Behan I would be able to achieve my future goals. I will also be spending my 5th year here in order to continue my education and golf career, so Siena's MBA program appealed to me as well. So far, Siena has lived up to my expectations, and I couldn't be happier. Everyone here is extremely welcoming and supportive, and my coaches and teammates are nothing short of amazing."
Emily Nash '23