Growing up in Sacramento with Egyptian immigrant parents, Noor Ahmed says she experienced the loss of friendships when she decided to wear the hijab at age 13. “Some people just said she’s not one of us anymore,” she recounts to the Sacramento Bee. But there was one community that embraced the young teen – the golf community.
In high school, Noor was one of the top junior golfers in Northern California. Currently, she is in the middle of her second year at the University of Nebraska where she is the No. 2 player on the golf team, and is said to be the only college and pro golfer to compete in the hijab.
Despite these accolades, Noor says she has been the target of bullying because of her faith. When a video surfaced of a white nationalist classmate, teammate Kate Smith offered to walk Noor home and even a place to stay so she wouldn’t be alone. “That was when Noor realized how much each and every one of us care for her on the team,” recounts Kate Smith. “That it wasn’t just like, ‘Hey you’re our teammate.’ No, it’s ‘We want you to be safe, we want you to feel at home here.’”
With her parents encouragement, Noor started to play golf at 8 years old. “I grew up never seeing anyone like me,” she said. “Honestly, I didn’t realize how much grief I was carrying, having never seen an image of myself or someone who looked like me in popular American culture. It’s a big deal.”