After retiring from the LPGA Symetra Tour, pro golfer Natalie Schmett became a coach and now joins us as an Athlete Ally Ambassador. Learn more about Natalie and why she’s passionate about building LGBTQ visibility and inclusion in sports.
Athlete Ally: How did you start playing golf, and what do you love about it?
Natalie: I started playing golf because of my dad and grandpa. They were my golf heroes growing up, and still are! When I was little, I remember going with them to the course early on Saturday mornings, and wanting to be able to hit the ball as far as they did.
Through the years, I trained hard to succeed in golf. I’m very competitive, and I loved seeing all my work and effort pay off. There’s never a point in golf where you can stop grinding. It’s always a work in progress.
Why do you think it’s important for young LGBTQ athletes to see out, professional athletes?
I believe that being a visible athlete and coach has a huge impact on young players. It’s important to be a leader and show that you can stand up for what you believe in, be yourself, be true to yourself, and that all of that is perfectly ok! As an athlete and coach, if I am my most authentic self, it creates a safe environment for my players to be themselves too, with no judgement. Being true to yourself allows you to become the best version of yourself both on and off the course/field/court.
As a coach and a former pro athlete, what changes do you think could be made in golf, in sports, or society as a whole, for LGBTQ people to be respected and welcomed?
I believe that several changes could be made in the sports world to feel more welcome. I’ve observed quite a bit of “locker room talk” within golf, as far as passing judgements or making assumptions before knowing someone. I am against any type of drama, bullying, and negative energy both on and off the course. We have to remember that your “normal” may not be someone else’s, and it’s okay to be different from your peers. As soon as more people realize this, I think it will help our sport, and eventually help all players move in the right direction to focus more on themselves and excelling with their own personal golf adventure.
What message would you give to LGBTQ youth who are wondering if they can be themselves and still play the sport they love?
Being the truest version of yourself is unlocking the highest level of happiness! My best advice is that if your “happy cup” is full, you can always pour into others. If you try to hide or be someone else, it will cause you to feel exhausted, drained, and unable to bring your “A” game. Be you and you’ll be respected, loved, and successful in your sport and your life!
Why are you excited to work with Athlete Ally as a Pro Ambassador?
I’m excited to work with Athlete Ally to help be a voice for the LGBTQ community. If you have a platform as a coach or athlete, it is extremely important to use it by being a leader and standing up for what you believe in.
I recently had an experience with a young student that was a big eye opener for me. A student I’d been working with for 3 years came to me for advice on how to approach a bully who was making inappropriate comments about her friend’s sexuality. In that moment, I pictured myself asking a coach for advice at such a young age, and I understood how courageous it was for her to come to me. I’ve always wanted to be the person who I needed when I was younger, and I felt like I was able to do so by guiding this young player through a tough situation. I let her know that standing up for her friend was the right thing to do, and that by doing so she was showing her teammates how to be leaders as well. I hope that by being a voice for inclusion, I can create the most comfortable environment for athletes around me. If I can make a difference in just one person’s life, I know I’m on the right track.
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