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. But there was one community that embraced the young teen – the golf community. She remembers participating in The First Tee of Greater Sacramento and being nervous about covering but “no one seemed to notice…. No one seemed to care. I was just the same kid. I was just Noor. It was the best response.”
Now 18, Ms. Ahmed will be attending the University of Nebraska this fall on a golf scholarship, having become one of the most accomplished First Tee alumnae. In a recent Congressional speech for National Golf Day in Washington D.C., Ms. Ahmed reflected on how her sports career may not have happened if First Tee executive director Angie Dixon had not taken her by the hand and told her she mattered. “Angie took me by the hand and told me we would do the lesson together…. She may never know or understand how in that very moment she changed my life. She noticed the shy, introverted girl that no one had noticed before and by her small action told me I was part of a group and that I was wanted. My journey with the First Tee began there. It helped mold me in ways I would have never imagined.”
According to the Sacramento Bee, Ms. Ahmed currently has a “1.4 handicap index, a flowing swing, consistent ball-striking, an impeccable short game.” Nebraska’s veteran coach Robin Krapfl says of the pick: “Our athletic department prides itself on diversity and inclusion. Noor will be very well received by her teammates and Husker athletes.
Ms. Ahmed plans to also study biology and pursue nursing in college. And on mixing hijab and golf, the athlete says, “In the golf world, I think it’s helped me. It’s one way that I’m different from everybody else. At tournaments, I’m really easy to spot – ‘Oh, it’s Noor.’ It’s a little harder when it’s 105 degrees. It’s hot. I’m feeling it, but I’m used to it.”