Pioneer Spirit of Women Paves Way for Fair and Equal Chance Today
With the popularity of women's professional golf now an international phenomenon, four LPGA champions from different parts of the world—France, South Korea, Canada, and the United States—will discuss the challenges they face as women competing on the road at the third annual "Conversation with Champions." The event is presented by the Susan B. Anthony Center for Women's Leadership and Wegmans LPGA and sponsored by Polisseni and USA Payroll.
"Our conversations with international LPGA champions remind us of why we need pioneers—women like these who break barriers and open doors," says Bredes, director of the Anthony Center at the University of Rochester, of the lunch and discussion to be held on Wednesday, June 18, at noon at the Champions Pavilion of Locust Hill Country Club. "When women first started to play golf, they were restricted by equipment, mandated layers of clothing, and men's refusal to let them on to courses."
Representative of women golfers around the world making landmark achievements with record-breaking salaries, this year's panel of champions will include Lorie Kane of Prince Edward Island, Canada, who has four career victories on the LPGA Tour; Jeong Jang of South Korea, who won the Women's British Open in 2005 by four shots and claimed her second LPGA win in 2006 at the Wegmans LPGA; Patricia Meunier-Labouc of France, who has five international victories and the Kraft Nabisco Championship to her credit; and Laura Diaz from the United States, the second player in history to compete in the Solheim Cup while pregnant, winning a point for the victorious U.S. team. After giving birth to a healthy boy in 2006, she was back in competition two months later.
"The event offers a unique platform for LPGA players to have an unscripted discussion about life on the road—from playing tournaments as expectant mothers or the experience of traveling with children, to having your husband as a caddie, as in the case of Laura Diaz, and the general challenges of international competition," says Kim Osur, marketing manager of Wegmans LPGA.
Established in 1950, the Ladies Professional Golf Association is the oldest professional women's sports organization in the world. The Wegmans LPGA has become one of the most popular stops on the organization's tour, bringing the world's best women golfers to enthusiastic crowds in a joint effort to raise funds for hundreds of city children with disabilities.
Former Sports Illustrated senior editor Myra Gelband, who will serve as moderator of the panel, says the stories the champions share inspire one generation of women after the next. "Even women who aren't athletes can appreciate and learn from women athletes, no matter their age," says Gelband, who earned a bachelor's degree in English and biology from the University of Rochester in 1971 before setting out to write about golf, track and field, football, hockey, and the Olympics on the Sports Illustrated staff.
"In the majority of sports, we get to see people striving and putting themselves on the line, and they are judged by an objective standard, either a score, or a time—a true meritocracy, where the winner isn't determined by looks, age, clothes," adds Gelband, a University of Rochester senior trustee. "What about that shouldn't appeal to all women? Isn't that what we're all striving for, a fair and equal chance."
Sarah Plasky, a marketing executive with Xerox Global Services, will be awarded the 2008 Susan B. Anthony Promise Award at the luncheon. The annual award celebrates a leading Rochester woman and alumna of the University's Simon Graduate School of Business whose "career, energy, and wisdom" promise to help realize women's growth.
"At Xerox, Plasky leads a team focused on digital technology and bringing innovative solutions and services to global marketing," says Mark Zupan, dean of the Simon School. "Sarah is truly a trailblazer in the spirit and tradition of Susan B. Anthony."
Plasky says that the early founders of the LPGA, like the legendary athlete Babe Didrikson Zaharias, would probably be shocked to see how far the game of golf has spread in popularity to women all over the world. Zaharias, Plasky notes, got her nickname not from looks or her youthfulness, but how she could hit a baseball farther than the boys back in Beaumont, Texas in the 1920s.
"If we look to business and professional associations, such as the LPGA, there is a profound tie to the work needed ahead to realize women's full social, political, and economic equality and the seaming ease with which these organizations bring people together," says Plasky, who is co-chair of the Simon School Alumni Council. "In the flat business world of today, the savvy majority will seek to cultivate from all talent pools to make certain they remain competitive. We are living in a time of possibilities."
All proceeds from Wegmans LPGA will benefit the Disabled Children of Monroe County's Camp Haccamo and the Sunshine Campus, two Rotary camps for children with disabilities. The camps provide an atmosphere for children to experience months full of activities, fresh air, and camaraderie.
Tickets for the June 18 event cost $50 and tables of eight are available for $350. For reservations or more information, contact the Wegmans LPGA at (585) 427-7100 (www.rochesterlpga.com) or the Anthony Center at (585) 275-8799 (www.rochester.edu/sba).