Gabby Lemieux, Shoshone-Paiute, will be making her LPGA professional debut this Thursday at the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic. The LPGA televised golf event is hosted by the Oneida Nation. She has embarked on a professional debut after playing collegiately at Texas Tech University.
The Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic will be held in Oneida, Wisconsin July 3rd-8th, 2018. One of 33 LPGA tournaments held throughout the world, the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic will attract 144 of the world’s best golfers to compete at the Official Golf Course of the Green Bay Packers.
Before heading out to the Oneida course, decked out in Nike N7 gear, Lemieux spoke with Indian Country Today’s Vincent Schilling to share how she felt representing Indian Country.
Vincent Schilling: So you have something pretty special coming up this Thursday.
Gabby Lemieux: I've got sponsors and exemption from Nike N7 to play at the Thornberry Creek LPGA classic.
Vincent Schilling: Are you the only Native player?
Gabby Lemieux: Yes, I think so.
Vincent Schilling: You did well at the collegiate level for sure with several golfing achievements at Texas tech. Where would you say you are now in the golfing world?
Gabby Lemieux: After this tournament I will be starting my Symetra Tour. I have 11 tournaments, I missed half of the season because I wanted to finish school, so I will be able to play in the last half of the season.
Vincent Schilling: What level of support have you had from Nike N7?
Gabby Lemieux: They are really supportive and really help me with what I want to do with my dreams. I just want to be a part of N7 and Nike as well. It has been tremendous, and just to have the back of Natives in Indian country and my own folks and Idaho, it has just been unbelievable with all of the support.
Vincent Schilling: It doesn't hurt that you're doing this in Oneida territory.
Gabby Lemieux: Yes, exactly. (laughs)
Vincent Schilling: How does it feel to represent Native people? We are so often under-represented in sports, there are of course a few Native golfers such as Notah Begaye or Rickie Fowler, but now here you are.
Gabby Lemieux: It honestly feels great. I talked with Notah a little bit, he has been right behind me every step of the way, he has offered the best support. But having Indian country support me in everything that I do, it is just unbelievable. There is a young woman named Sadie Kelly from Oneida, she has followed me in the things I've done. I got to meet her and her family, I didn't expect her to back me up so much with golf, she is a golfer too and it is fascinating to see how many people are following me and where I'm coming from.
Vincent Schilling: You have worked hard to achieve what you have. You are going to play for the LPGA, for Oneida and young people must just think something like this is just so far away. How do you even get to this level?
Gabby Lemieux: From my perspective, it took a lot of hard work. A lot and a lot of hours. This is what I preach to younger kids from my area. I also have spoken to them in New Mexico. I actually did a clinic with Jason Montoya, he allowed my sister and I to come out there, and help with the clinic.
Vincent Schilling: Considering the trajectory of your ambitions, what do you hope to achieve?
Gabby Lemieux: I hope to make a name for myself, I hope to have people follow in my footsteps, I hope to create a platform they can fall onto.
Vincent Schilling: So what would your words be to Native budding athletes?
Gabby Lemieux: I would just tell those guys to follow their dreams. If you want to play golf, play golf. If you want to play a different sport go for it. If you want to go to college, follow your dreams, you can get there. That's what Sadie and her father were talking to me about. They asked what I was going through, they asked if I played AJGA, (American Junior Golf Association) and I told them no. But I did play in a few National tournaments, I did meet some college coaches, and that's how I started my college career.
Vincent Schilling: Do you ever feel like you were underestimated?
Gabby Lemieux: I feel like I was. When I was younger, everyone always played in AJGA, or other tournaments where I really didn't have the opportunity to do that. But I decided to take my own challenges and accept it. This is what I hope other Native athletes or any athletes can do.
Vincent Schilling: Anything else you'd like to mention?
Gabby Lemieux: I really want to thank Nike N7 for giving me this opportunity to be shown here at this tournament.
Vincent Schilling: Good Luck Gabby, we will be watching!!
Gabby Lemieux: Thanks so much!
For more information about the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic, visit http://www.thornberrycreeklpgaclassic.com/
- Date: July 3rd – 8th, 2018
- Venue: Thornberry Creek at Oneida, Official Golf Course of the Green Bay Packers
- Field: 144 LPGA Professionals
- Purse: $2,000,000
- TV Coverage: 11 hours of live event coverage on NBC’s The Golf Channel
- Charitable Beneficiary: Local Charities
- Activities: Pro-Am, Junior Golf Clinic, Autograph Alley, Military Appreciation, and much more!
Follow Indian Country Today’s associate editor and senior correspondent, Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) on Twitter - @VinceSchilling