Golf is usually an individual sport. But one young Denham Springs golfer has become quite the team player — for her neighbors.
Last July, Sophia Macias, then 10, started the No Worries Just Birdies golf tournament at Greystone Golf and Country Club to raise money for improving playground equipment at South Walker Elementary School. She started a nonprofit organization with the same name. The tournament netted about $6,500 to improve playground equipment and install equipment for special needs students.
In February, her organization switched sports but kept the focus on the Livingston Parish school system. Glory Days, an adult basketball tournament, raised about $10,000 to install air conditioning at the Live Oak Middle School gymnasium, where the tournament was played.
Now she has more events in the works to help her friends’ schools.
Sophia's fundraising events have benefited the elementary school she once attended and the middle school she would be attending had she not enrolled in The Episcopal School in Baton Rouge. It just seemed like the right thing to do, she said.
“Sometimes, people just need a little bit of help or a boost,” Sophia said. “This gym, I would have come here, and it would have been extremely hot. So, we thought maybe we should put an AC unit in this gym.
“All my friends are from South Walker Elementary and Live Oak, now I’ve made friends at Episcopal, but my main friends are at South Walker Elementary and Live Oak, so I was just giving back to them.”
Sophia and her father, James Macias, came up with the fundraisers last year. An excellent junior golfer, Sophia — who picked up the sport when she was 6 and has played in junior tournaments throughout the Southeast — was wondering why so few other local girls her age played the sport. Her dad suggested that she use her talent as a platform to raise visibility for girls’ golf and do good.
Macias had already helped organize charity basketball tournaments for several years in Denham Springs, so he knew how to put such events together.
“I’m basically the business side,” Macias said. “There are a lot of logistics involved. … She gets out there. She talks on the microphone. She has no problem putting herself out there.
“She inspires me to be a better person. She inspired me to get off my tail and lose 200 pounds five years ago, just pushing me. She pushes so hard.”
The father-and-daughter team had a lot of help with the air conditioning project. Donating labor or materials were Cool Tech Heating and Air, Tri-Parish Foundation, Mid-South Carrier Enterprises, B&C Sheet Metal, Reliable Electric and Demco Electric. LAPro Construction and Stonebridge Construction helped with the logistics; April Curtis, of GMFS Lending, and Jen Blackwell, of Berkshire Hathaway Home Services, solicited donations.
The second golf tournament will be July 22 at Greystone to benefit the Reach program at Live Oak Junior High, which teaches life skills to special-needs students, and to refurbish the school’s greenhouse.
No Worries Just Birdies also is in discussions with BREC to hold a girls’ golf clinic, Macias said.
“We just want to grow the game of girls’ golf,” he said. “The most unused scholarship in America is the women’s golf scholarship — 2,500 of them go unused.
“Our motto is inspiration and motivation through the game of golf.”