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.
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’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.”