This is For Them

Barbara Blackwell

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This series is brought to you by United Dairy Industry of Michigan.

You get what you give at SMU, but everything—and I mean everything—is there for the taking. You can go as far as you want as long as you’re willing to put in the work.

But it was never about me for all of the years I spent on that golf course. 

Yes, you play on your own as an individual, but I don’t think I could have been as successful without my teammates and Coach there to back me up.

When I needed a laugh, they were there to make me laugh. They were also there to give me a nice kick in the shin whenever I needed one of those as well.

And believe me, there were times when it was warranted.

It’s nice to be recognized with an SMU Hall of Fame induction—don’t get me wrong. But for me, internally, it feels more like a validation for my teammates than anything I did over the course of my career.

I’m forever grateful for the opportunity to live out my dream as a student-athlete. 

And to think, it all started with some old stick and a golf ball. 

The Blackwell legend

The story—or legend, as some would say—started when my family moved from California to Texas. I was two-and-a-half years old at the time, and my mom was nine months pregnant with my brother.

She kind of lost track of me with the moving van outside, and I wandered out from our street and ended up on a golf course.

I found a stick and a golf ball along the way and just started hitting holes.

I can imagine I scared the bejesus out of my mom. And after all of that, when she finally found me, I asked her if she played golf.

Never mind the fact that she was probably worried out of her mind thinking I had disappeared prior to that moment.

But from that point on, I was drawn to the sport of golf, along with a bunch of other sports until high school.

I wanted to be the first female professional soccer player. Specifically, I wanted to be like Pelé, even though I played goalie. I also wanted to be the first female to play football, but my parents adamantly refused it. Then I thought about being the first female professional baseball player.

When you’re growing up, you just believe you can do it all, you know?

That was my mentality before high school came around, and I settled on golf as my main sport. Not too long after that, colleges started reaching out.

The one-way trip

Me even going to SMU was a chance opportunity because I’d been recruited by Duke initially since my freshman year. Then offers started rolling in from the University of Arizona, Oklahoma State, LSU, and Ohio State.

Kyle O’Brien Stevens, who was the SMU coach at the time, got to see me play at a tournament, and she called me up after asking if I’d consider coming and checking out the program. 

We only got five visits back then, and I was saving my last recruiting trip for Duke.

While I was still waiting for a call back, my mom suggested that I go ahead and check out SMU and use it as sort of a practice visit for my other recruiting trips. So we paid out of pocket and made our way to Dallas.

I never went on that last trip to Duke.

It’s a great school with an amazing history, but I absolutely fell in love with SMU. The school, coach, team—everything was perfect.

It was exactly where I wanted to be.

When I think back to my time at SMU, I can honestly say that place changed my life in more ways than I can put into words. It means the world to me.

Without SMU, I would have never found Jesus or God. I would have never found the path that made all of this possible.

Calculus III

That path was my teammates.

It has always been about them and how they encouraged me on and off the course. I can honestly say my favorite moments in college came on those team road trips. The laughs, comradery, and Coach making that extra effort to ensure we ate at great restaurants—you don’t forget those moments.

Those are the times in life that you can’t replace.

To me, SMU is about the people. That’s what drew me there initially, and it’s ultimately what compelled me to stay.

From the staff working there to my teammates and even my professors in the classroom—it has always been about the people.

But I’ve had my fair share of challenging moments there as well. 

One in particular was Calculus III.

I remember an incident in the fall season of my sophomore year. 

I wasn’t playing my best golf and was losing confidence. I came back from a road trip to a pop quiz with the professor giving us some dimensions and asking for the equation of the black hole.

I burst out laughing.

How in the world were we going to find the dimensions and volume of a black hole? Then I looked around the room and saw everybody grinding on their papers and calculators. 

I said to myself, “Oh my God, I’m in so much trouble.”

Obviously, I hadn’t been studying. We were missing a couple of days of class being on the road, but you’re still expected to keep up. And whew, boy.

I remember calling my mom later that night and crying because I wasn’t going to be a math major.

When I think back to my time at SMU, I can honestly say that place changed my life in more ways than I can put into words. It means the world to me. Without SMU, I would have never found Jesus or God. I would have never found the path that made all of this possible.

A special place

At least I got to a point where I could laugh about it all when I changed my major to TV and radio. That was the only path that didn’t require me to know the volume of a black hole or learn a foreign language.


More importantly, it gave me an opportunity to be a better player on the course, while also excelling in the classroom. When I talk about the people, I want to emphasize the professors at SMU. There was this deeper level of caring that you won’t typically find anywhere else.

I’ve had professors invite our class to their homes. They really cared about us, not just as students—but as human beings. I remember when I won the Southwest Conference my senior year. I had a night class, and when I walked into the room, my professor had the whole class giving me a standing ovation.

I was at a loss for words.

Honestly, I didn’t even think they knew we had women’s golf on campus.

My professor even brought me a cake the following week. It ended up being an exciting class for a bunch of poor college students. That moment really touched me.

Sure, the physical beauty of the campus is there, but it’s what’s on the inside—the heart of the school—that turns SMU into such a special place.

I’m thrilled to be receiving the honor of a Hall of Fame induction.

I’m thankful for the many laughs and memories.

But most of all, I’m thankful for that old stick and golf ball that started it all.

Sorry, mom.