Fuse is once again celebrating an extended Black History Month by looking at a variety of rising forces who are creating Future Black History before our eyes. The numbers don't lie: Sadena Parks is in a league all her own, but her story goes way beyond her golf game for anyone to find inspiration in the rising sports superstar.
In 2014, Parks made history by becoming only the fifth African American to receive her Ladies Professional Golf Association tour card. And before that, she had earned two of the lowest rounds ever for University of Washington while playing intercollegiate golf. But the 26-year-old's journey started much earlier when at nine-years-old when her single-parent father would bring her to the driving range instead of hiring babysitters to watch her. Interestingly enough, Parks was great at basketball and track, but not good at golf, which she says only "attracted" her to the sport more.
"Golf gave me something to work on," she told ESPN in her spread for their famous Body issue. "I’m a quick learner, but I’m a very slow starter. My dad taught me that nothing comes easy, though. You might not be that player who automatically just starts at the top and things come to them; you are the type of person that has to start from the bottom and work your way up. But gosh, believe me, it’s so frustrating seeing how much effort you put into something and not to see the results right away."
That determination has only fueled her to break barriers and stop at nothing to stand out as a black, female golfer—even in the face of blatant racism and adversity. She shared this heartbreaking-but-inspiring story to ESPN:
"'You guys can't play golf.'" I'm just going to say 'you guys' because the word that this Caucasian gentleman used was so hurtful, so historic that it brought tears to my eyes at the age of 13. And my dad said, 'This is the reason we work as hard as we do, because we want to change things. We want to show that, no matter who you are, you should not be treated the way that we were just treated.'
"My skin color doesn't give me a good excuse to say, 'I'm not capable.' Of course I had moments of doubt, but now I feel really comfortable [playing golf]. I know what my purpose is, and that’s what drives me. My purpose is to bring a lot more people into the game—to drive kids to understand how this game relates so much to your growth as a human being."
Parks doesn't let her gender, skin color, or any other facet hold her back. In fact, she declares: "I want to be the No. 1-ranked golfer in the world." Not the No. 1 black golfer, not the No. 1 female golfer, not the No. 1 golfer reigning from Raleigh, NC. Just No. 1 in the world. If that's not creating your own history, we're not sure what is.