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A League of Her Own - By Mike Lynch

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A League of Her Own

In late October Emily Nash of Lunenburg High School shot a 75 in the Central MA Boys Division 3 golf tournament. Emily plays on the boys team because Lunenburg doesn't have a girls team. Emily's score of 75 was THE best individual score of all the players in the tournament. When it came time to present the trophy to the top player it was given to a boy who Emily beat by four shots because the MIAA rules state " a girl cannot win the boys individual tournament." Girls are allowed to play and help their team's overall score but a girl cannot wear the crown. Yes this is 2017 and injustice prevailed. You probably remember the fallout in the ensuing days and weeks. Imagine having a girl playing goalie on the boys hockey team. She would be allowed to help the team win a league or state championship but would be ineligible for the MVP award because she is a girl. That's pretty much what happened to Emily Nash.

                 

Rudyard Kipling once wrote “If you can keep you head when all about you are losing theirs” fairly sums up the fury that surrounded 16-year- old Emily Nash after that tournament. While every local and national news outlet screamed “Foul” and “Unfair”, Emily became the voice of reason and never the voice of a victim. I visited with Emily, her coach and her teammates recently and she told me. “I was never totally disappointed. I mean I was at the start a little bit, I understand the rules, I get why they are in place. When I heard about all the issues it made me feel good I had so much support.”

At Settlers Crossing Golf Course in Lunenburg Emily has always had plenty of support, especially from her teammates and coaches who admire her game as much as her sportsmanship and character. Said her coach Linda Collette

“Emily has totally been calm, kept her composure and has been very poised throughout this entire ordeal." One of Lunenburg's captains Troy Howe chimed in “she’s really humble. She’s not cocky or anything – I know she was upset with the ruling but handled it very well. Emily’s one of the best players and teammates, she helps you with your own shots and if you’re having a bad day she’ll just talk about what’s going on in school,” added captain Steven Olson.

Golf can be an unfair game at times. It’s a self-governing sport that teaches lifelong values. It has served Emily well during this time of turmoil “Golf is a game where you always follow the rules, there’s so much sportsmanship involved in golf. I feel like I’ve always grown up knowing that – I’ve just handled this like I’ve handled every other situation,” said Emily.

Being able to block out the hysteria that shadowed her after being denied the title and the trophy would rattle most 16 year olds. Kipling would have been fond of Emily who met “triumph and disaster and treated those two imposters the same” I asked Emily if she was proud of herself and the manner in which she handled all the commotion? "It’s definitely been a little overwhelming but I think overall I’ve handled it pretty well.”

You bet she has. The 16-year-old has become the "Mentor." While the MIAA still cannot see the error of their rules and judgement, Emily has risen above the fray. LPGA great Annika Sorenstam has invited Emily to play in her prestigious tournament in St. Augustine Florida in January. Billy Jean King tweeted her support. The list of well-wishers and those who are outraged is endless. Through it all Emily just smiles, shrugs her shoulders and looks forward to continuing to live her life as a normal high school junior as well as competing in her next tournament. No feet stomping, no temper tantrums, no crying, no "why me?" Emily Nash handled it all with class and dignity and is in a league of her own.

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