Sydnee Michaels’ well of motivation runs deep.
With five Top 10 career wins during her eight years on the LPGA Tour and over twenty years of golf experience under her belt, Sydnee wants to do it all. But when a back injury stalled her career for the LPGA’s 2019 season, she suddenly found herself facing a new set of challenges during her recovery: What now?
“I kind of had to rediscover who I was as a person,” Sydnee said, “because golf was basically my identity for my entire life.”
Suddenly, Sydnee no longer had the hectic schedule of a professional golfer traveling on the LPGA Tour, and though she had a young family to care for, she found herself searching for a new challenge for herself that would help fire up her competitive spirit while also establishing a platform to inspire positive change in the world.
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“Do not lose hope, please believe that there are a thousand beautiful things waiting for you. Sunshine Comes to all who feel rain.” – R. M. Drake . . . Surgery went great, I’m in pain but overall healing well. Thank you all so much for your thought and prayers! 💗 . . . I have made a few decisions this year that haven’t been easy ones but have been the best ones in order to take control of my life. Easy? No. Painful? Yes. We all have the choice in life to sit back and let things happen to us, or sit up and do something about it to fight back. The choice is always yours. • • • • • #backsurgery #golferproblems #golfer #lpga #golfgirl #golfinjury #surgery #golfaddict#golf
So, one night, as she sat on her couch trying to brainstorm ideas for how she could productively use this time away from the Tour, she looked up how to apply for the Ms. Hawaii beauty pageant on a whim. To her surprise, they were still taking applications. That night, her application was submitted, and what happened next felt like a sign from the universe.
“The pageant director called me the following day after I sent [my application] in,” Sydnee explained. That call was to congratulate Sydnee for being selected as a final contestant for the pageant. “She told me that she literally closed entries that night! So, if I would have waited an extra hour, it would have been closed. So, I was like: ‘Oh, it was meant to be!’”
With a new challenge lain before her, Sydnee was excited but nervous about competing in her first ever beauty pageant.
“I was like, how hard could it be? I can handle it. I’ve been a professional athlete. I’ve got this.”
However, Sydnee soon found out that there’s a lot more to competing in pageants than she initially thought.
“I had no idea how much work and preparation went into being in a pageant,” she said. “I already knew all the ins and outs of golf but not the ins and outs of pageantry.”
After hiring a pageant coach and putting her all into the various demands of the competition, Sydnee was thrilled to be crowned Ms. Hawaii and move forward to compete in the 2019 Ms. America pageant.
“I never thought in a million years that I would actually have a chance to be Ms. America,” Sydnee said. But now that she has this opportunity, she is using it to the fullest in order to pursue her other interests outside of the all-encompassing demands of life as a professional golfer.
While she grew up singing and dancing, it isn’t her natural inclination for performance that she is using to help prepare for the Ms. America pageant. Instead, she was very surprised to find that there are a lot of similarities between pageants and playing golf, especially in how she handles it mentally.
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My mission is to encourage people everywhere that there is no “box” to fit into. You can be whatever you set your mind to. Mama, Professional Golfer and a Beauty Queen? Why not? I’m thrilled to be blending these “images” together. . . Getting fit for my gown today @miabellacouture ( hint: this gorgeous dress didn’t win, but isn’t it beautiful?) Can’t wait to reveal the dress I picked next month! 😍 . . . . . #golfbabes #golfgirls #lpga #womensgolf #womensgolfjournal #womenempowerment #inspiration #beautyqueen #mshawaiiamerica2019 #msamerica #golflife
“I’m basically preparing for [the Ms. America pageant] like I would for a tournament,” Sydnee explained. “There’s a lot of preparation, a lot of practice, a lot of details, perfecting and fine-tuning every little thing . . . That is definitely similar to professional golf.”
As a contestant for Ms. America, she was required to perform at least three community service outings, but, true to her altruistic character, she completed twelve over the course of two months, working with a local charity called Rancho Damacitas.
The organization runs an “Empowerment Village”, which houses struggling single moms and their children, providing much-needed tools for the women such as counselling and personal finance and parenting classes in order to empower them to become their own advocates for themselves and their children.
“Overcoming adversity and rediscovering who you are . . . it’s part of my platform [for Ms. America],” Sydnee said. “Everyone experiences things that don’t go as planned, but you have to give yourself time to figure out what else you can do with your life that is super positive.”
Sydnee believes that you can’t always anticipate the things life will throw at you and that quite possibly the things you were meant to do and the places you were meant to go are not always the ones you would expect.
This is what makes competing in Ms. America so special for her—the impact she gets to make. As a golfer, Sydnee spoke out about her struggles with Postpartum Anxiety—which she suffered from after the birth of her daughter—as well as the challenges of being a mom on the LPGA Tour, and now she is focusing her efforts on empowering women to live their best lives.
Win or lose, after the pageant, Sydnee plans on hosting a charity golf tournament and women’s empowerment summit. All the proceeds from this event will benefit Rancho Damacitas. The weekend will include a lineup of speakers all sharing their incredible stories of overcoming adversity, a subject Sydnee herself is very passionate about, because for her it is personal.
“I wasn’t really sure about my return to the Tour [after my back surgery],” Sydnee said. “I’ve had a hard time with this transition period in my life, and I think [my family] is excited to see me putting my focus toward something. The pageant has inspired me to do more and I think that is special for me and for my family.”
Though the future for Sydnee is still uncertain—whether she will continue with pageants or return to the Tour—she is excited for all the possibilities that lay before her, especially the opportunity to finally bring together these two sides of herself—the girly-girl Ms. Hawaii and the driven LPGA Tour player.
“You don’t have to choose; that’s my whole thing!” she said. “I can be a professional golfer and a beauty queen.”