Amy Bockerstette, 22, became the first person with Down syndrome to compete in a national collegiate athletic championship this week

By Jason Duaine Hahn
May 11, 2021 04:38 PM
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Amy Bockerstette
Credit: Tracy Wilcox/getty

Amy Bockerstette might be setting a major milestone this week, but she's not breaking a sweat.

The 22-year-old golfer, who signed with Paradise Valley Community College in 2018, made history on Monday by becoming the first athlete with Down syndrome to play in a national collegiate athletic championship. Bockerstette and her team are currently competing at the National Junior College Athletic Association National Championship at Plantation Bay Golf & Country Club in Ormond Beach, Florida.

"I don't get nervous, just very excited! I am very happy to be here," Bockerstette tells PEOPLE of the tournament, which takes place over three days and started May 10. "[My] dad does get nervous, though."

But this week isn't the first time Bockerstette, a longtime Arizona resident, has made headlines.

In 2017, Bockerstette became the first Arizona student with Down syndrome to play in the state high school playoffs as a junior at Sandra Day O'Connor High School. Then, she became the first person with Down syndrome to receive a college athletics scholarship when she signed with Paradise Valley Community College a year later.

"I just love playing the tournaments, riding on the bus, and meeting new friends," she says of her golfing career so far, adding that "playing at Nationals is incredible."

"I love my teammates, they are my best friends," she continues. "Golf is fun. I like putting the best."

Bockerstette's love for golf is contagious, and there's probably no better example of this than when she went viral in 2019 after making par on the 16th hole of the Waste Management Phoenix Open. It was there that she uttered her catchphrase, "I got this," to 2018 Phoenix Open champ Gary Woodland.

Since then, Bockerstette has launched a nonprofit named after the catchphrase (I Got This Foundation), which provides golfing instruction for people with Down syndrome and other intellectual disabilities.

Amy Bockerstette
Amy Bockerstette
| Credit: Tracy Wilcox/PGA TOUR via Getty

Her parents, Joe and Jenny Bockerstette, couldn't be more proud of everything she has done, including her latest achievement.

"It is an incredible moment to see Amy playing at Nationals," her mother says. "It has far exceeded our goals and expectations. We are so proud of what she has accomplished and we are humbled by what her accomplishments mean to the Down syndrome community."

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Bockerstette says still has many more things she wants to accomplish, though.

"I want to work in music or golf after I'm finished with college," she says. "My big dream is to play golf with Niall Horan. My dream foursome is Niall Horan, Nick Jonas, Zac Efron and I want to play with Gary Woodland, too."

And for anyone else who has Down syndrome and dreams of going far in the world of sports, Bockerstette has a simple message for them.

"You can achieve your dreams too!" she says. "Just breathe and believe! You can do this! You got this!"