Episode #170- Women’s Golf Champion Avis Brown-Riley
You may not believe it, but life at the Why? World Headquarters (located in the heart of downtown on the second floor of the Professional Building) isn’t all sunshine and naked people. Sometimes things are just plain hard. You know the feeling; one of those mornings where you tumble out of bed and stumble to the kitchen? Those days where the pets look at you as if to say, “I do believe you told me in no uncertain terms that I shouldn’t have kids?” Yes, we all have those days, but thankfully there’s someone like Avis Brown-Riley who pops up and reminds you about the good things life has to offer.
Avis Brown-Riley is a golfer. And not just any golfer. She is a professional golfer like no other. Avis won the 1974 Junior World championship at age 10. That got her a plaque in the clubhouse that to this day hangs right next to another plaque won by someone you might’ve heard of- Tiger Woods? (If you haven’t heard of him, check him out- he’s pretty good.) At her peak, Avis was ranked #25 in the country.
And Avis was doing all of this winning and competing during a time when segregation and racism was very much a thing. (Not like we’ve got it all figured out now… far from it; but that conversation can wait until we’re in a better headspace and not eating Thin Mints out of the sleeve, petting the dog and saying over and over again; “you understand me, Captain, don’t you?” ) But Avis was able to work past such hatred with a focus on the game and on her faith. Nobody was going to tell her what she could and could not do.
After her golfing career was over, Avis started raising a family and working for FedEx. But even that wasn’t an easy path; because Avis is also a survivor of stage 4 breast cancer. Using the skills she first learned on the course, Avis was able to focus and stay mentally strong as she eventually wound up beating cancer, like it was just another opponent on the course. (She probably won’t say it, but part of her win might’ve had something to do with using the wedge on the 7th hole while cancer chose to stick with the driver… stupid cancer…)
And with all of that behind her, Avis is back out on the course, working with the LGPA to help kids in the African American and Latino communities find the love for the sport that has been such a gift in Avis and her family’s life.
Listening to Luke and Heidi talk with Avis is the tonic for whatever ails ya; hearing Avis’ sense of humor and positive outlook is the kind of thing we all need every once in a while. And if you want even more of Avis’ positive outlook, check out her book, The Building of a Champion.
You can follow Avis on Twitter and Instagram to learn more about what she is up to. Hint: it involves sharing her infectious joy with golf with everyone she comes across. She also is still playing and is looking for folks to join her in Spain for a tournament in 2023. (We can get you our Venmo account info if you’re looking to sponsor two people who can’t beat the windmill hole at mini-golf and will insist on packing robes on the trip.)
In the meantime, listen to Avis and try to draw just a small fraction of her positivity to help you out today- we could all use it.