The power of sports goes beyond the playing field or arena. Sports inspire and unite communities while empowering individuals to reach their full potential.
Kimberly Coleman learned this at a young age. Her dad was an Air Force pilot. The family moved around every three to four years as he was stationed around the world. As a child, Coleman found herself having to start over, trying to make new friends at each destination. Through it all, she found solace in sports.
“I played all sports growing up, just kind of whatever was in season,” said Coleman. “Moving around a lot, it’s hard because you kind of say goodbye to all of your friends. I was a shy kid, and it was a little unnerving to go to those new places. But the ability to have sports, particularly golf, gave me that avenue to connect with people.”
Coleman took up the game when she was around eight years old. Both of her parents and her little brother played. It became the thing to do as a family. Her father was stationed in Turkey when she was in high school. With no courses in the area, Coleman took a break from the game. After returning to the States, Coleman attended San Diego State University and was a walk-on for their basketball team. She then went on to serve as Director of Operations for the National Volleyball League, a women’s professional indoor organization.
“I just had this passion for sports. And as a woman it gave me an opportunity to express myself,” said Coleman. “I knew I wanted to do something in sports, I wanted to make a difference. But I didn’t quite know what.”
As she navigated through careers in different sports, Coleman always dreamed of playing golf professionally. She competed on numerous mini tours throughout the U.S. and Canada for ten years. In 2006, she was part of a small contingent of U.S. golf professionals who traveled to Xaimen, China to compete in the country’s inaugural “Orient Open.”
“I just fell in love with the game on a whole different level,” said Coleman. “And I met so many women while doing that. Some were already in the LPGA and told me, ‘You have got to join the [LPGA Professionals] program.’ I remember getting a packet in the mail that sat there for a couple of years. When the time was right, I checked it out and just never looked back. It was definitely the right thing for me at the right time.”
Coleman is now a dual LPGA Professionals Class A Member and PGA Class A Member. She has been at Vista Valley Country Club for over 10 years now, receiving a promotion to Head Golf Professional in 2018. Coleman’s current responsibilities include tournament operations, merchandising, instruction, junior golf camp coordination, staff management, playing with members, creating special events and daily golf operations.
“Golf is something that means different things to different people,” said Coleman. “Not everybody wants to play on Tour or on a team. The people we teach, we find they are all there for different reasons. So, I’m very aware of that and I enjoy that. I enjoy people’s stories. I enjoy getting to know them, what they want, who they are. I had to learn how to do that growing up, just making those connections.”
One of the connections that she has made is with LPGA Tour play Tiffany Joh. The two met in a U.S. Women’s Open qualifier just outside of San Diego. They exchanged information after a practice round and a friendship developed.
“She’s so great. She needed a home to practice and play, and I wanted to bring her in to share how fabulous she is, which shows what’s out there with the LPGA,” Coleman said. “She got involved with me and my members and did some really cool things with that. She’s a giver.”
Connection is key for Coleman. Throughout the stages in her journey, family and support remain close to her heart. When it comes to the LPGA Professionals, Coleman says she has found that genuine connection.
“No matter your age or your position, whether you’re teaching or playing or a general manager – you just feel like you are part of the LPGA. You’ve got a family, you’ve got those bonds, you have support and mentors. That’s huge. It goes a long way.
“People in the LPGA want us all to succeed. We’re there for each other. I can’t stress enough how special that is to me. It’s always the first thing I share with people – ‘If you really love golf, get into the LPGA, find these ladies and we’ll help you out. We’ll get you there. It’s a family, for sure.”
From moving around a lot with a military family to finding that love and passion in sports, Coleman loves that she is now able to give back through golf. For her, it’s special to be able to say that she is doing what she was meant to do.
“As kids, some of us dream about playing on Tour or professional sports. Not everybody is cut out for that. I have this quote hanging in my office that I came across two years ago and it just really connected with me. ‘The meaning of life, to find your gift and the purpose of life, is to give it away.’ Find your passion, whatever it is, and go do it. Go for it. You can make it happen. Believe in yourself and don’t give up whatever it is.
“I just want to share that there’s so much more to this business, to this industry. You can really make a difference.”
That’s how Kimberly Coleman, the 2020 LPGA Professional of the Year, Drives On.