Learning about all these new stories brings me an immense amount of joy and I love getting to tell the stories of the people I meet. I say this because I was recently asked what this blog brings me, and of course I had to say joy. The next person that I got the pleasure of talking to was none other than Sara Lamberson. Sara throws for team Innova and has a slew of information about her that is worth the read and worth taking the time out of your day to learn. So, when you can, please give it a read and enjoy!
As I began talking to Sara, I learned quickly that she is a very competitive and very intelligent individual. Her start into disc golf began in college where she was studying to be a classical piano major. She told me, “I had been playing ultimate frisbee since high school and played on my co-ed college team at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.” So, she has been around disc sports since around 2003, but never the sport of disc golf. Her piano professor was also the track and field and cross-country coach and would take his team to run while playing the campus-owned disc golf course, the IUP College Lodge, built on a former ski hill. She joined him for a non-running round and said, “I shot 50 over par or something like that.” Once she started to play more, her friend gave her a DX Valkyrie and an Evolution Element. Both interesting discs for a beginner, but, she did have the arm speed and practice through ultimate, so I trust she did not have too many difficulties. After receiving her discs, she continued to play and grow, and later that year, played in her first tournament – the Pennsylvania State Championships, which was held at the IUP College Lodge. She explained, “I played and won my first tournament in intermediate by default, but was hooked, and in 2009 I got my PDGA membership.” As they say, the rest is history.
When we play, we all have different motivations and inspirations to keep playing and keep going. Whether that be a friend, a significant other, or the drive to be the best in the world at your division. We all have our own quirks. Sara is no different, when asked, she told me “I am very self-motivated and have always had a lot of support.” In 2011, she started graduate school at the University of South Carolina and joined the Gamecock disc golf team as the lone female. She was very fortunate to have such a competitive nature around her and had the ability to compete with her friends and classmates. Not only that, she told me “I want to be rated higher and I always set goals for myself.” She placed second at the 2014 Amateur World Championships and started playing pro soon after. Her goal for 2018 is to reach a rating of 900. As you can see, she has no issues with pushing herself to be the best she can be. But, as much as she is self-motivated, she does have a great support system. After quite a bit of moving around, Sara has settled in Nashville, TN with her partner and former touring professional disc golfer, Shawn Sinclair. She said, “Shawn has been a great coach for me, using analogies and comparisons and putting it in a way that helps me, especially with the mental aspect of the game.” Not only can she succeed on her own, but, she has someone cheering her on and making sure she is continuing to grow and succeed as much as she wants to.
As I mentioned before, Sara throws for Innova. I always want to know what it is like to be a part of a team such as Innova. I am not sponsored so I have yet to feel what it is like to be a part of a team in the disc golf world. To no surprise, Sara has nothing but great words to say about being sponsored and being on Team Innova. She first explained to me that “getting on Innova’s team was the thing I had always strived for, I threw mostly Innova and started as an ambassador and am now on the sponsored player side.” Being sponsored has its rewards, she told me “it helps to advance my passions in the sport besides playing – giving clinics and promoting the sport.” She also told me that “with Innova, we have a great sense of community and do things like get together for dinner at worlds.” Sara manages the Innova Women’s Team Facebook page with the goal of promoting all of Innova’s sponsored women. She is also sponsored by Throw Pink. Those are things that make you want to strive for your best and eventually get sponsored by a company. However, it is not always sunshine and rainbows. There are some things that come with being a sponsored pro that people do not realize. Sara explained that she feels pressure at times to be the best, especially at local events, “and that’s hard sometimes when you’re having an off day.” That’s a reality that some do not see, and some must realize. It is fun, and she loves it and she pushes through these difficulties as best she can.
To bring it back to a lighter side, Sara has some interesting choices for discs and for courses. I like learning about new and interesting courses and discs. I know most of them but when someone lets me learn about a new one I get excited. Sara was no different. Her favorite discs include the GStar Sidewinder, the GStar Tern, the Gstar Mako3, and the KC Pro Aviar. “My bag is pretty minimalistic, and like to throw under-stable plastic.” I have had the opportunity to throw the Aviar and Sidewinder and like both, but I have never thrown a Tern, but I have heard good things. However, I personally do not like the feel of GStar but I can understand why people like it. If you live in the south, then you will love her course options she has for you. Now, the list of courses are as follows “IUP College Lodge in Indiana, PA, North Georgia Canopy Tours in Lula, Georgia, and Harmon Hills in Fall Branch, TN.” The course in PA is where she first played, and she has nothing but good things to say about it. All the courses in the south in Georgia and Tennessee she loves and said they were worth going to if you can. I know I will go if I am ever that far down south.
Now, Sara is someone who wants to give back to the community more so than most. As she says, “I am super passionate about volunteering and running clinics.” Not only did she say it, you can tell in her voice when she talks about it how excited she is. So, as we were talking about clinics, I learned that she runs the biggest mixed doubles event in the world in South Carolina. She explained that “it is called the Ladies and Gents Mixed Doubles, and we raise money for the South Carolina Cancer Alliance.” That is truly amazing, and I also learned that the annual event has raised over $7,000 for the non-profit so far. That is something that makes me excited to be part of this community. I am so thankful for all that Sara does to help with her mixed doubles event. A little bit more about the event is that “professionals to newbies come out to play, last year we had 54 teams, so 54 women, which is awesome. My goal for the event is to raise as much money for the SC Cancer Alliance as possible while also giving players as many opportunities to win prizes as possible. This includes trivia, raffle, CTPs, a ring of fire, and more.” This year, the title sponsor is Smoky Mountain Discs, and many more disc golf and non-disc golf companies and individuals donate prizes and cash to support them every year. This event sounds interesting and is held April 7, 2018 at Earlewood Park Disc Golf Course in Columbia, SC. She does a lot for this community and I can’t wait to see how much her support and love for the game grows as years go on.
Advice is so important to take when you can, especially from professionals. I have so much to learn and I have learned so much already. It seems like each new person I speak to I learn more about the game and Sara’s advice was just as good as anyone else’s. She told me “play with as many players as you can, you can learn from anyone and everyone.” Which I like a lot, it is not just pros to watch but just anyone who plays, tips are tips no matter who they come from. She also touches on a topic that I believe most people do not think about when they play. Her other piece of advice is “get good at the mental game, verbalize your shots and don’t overthink too much.” The mental aspect of the game is so critical and so important, and I feel as though it gets overlooked a lot of the time. Bringing it up is good and worth talking about.
Knowing the player outside of the course is what I want to do. That is why I like asking them if they have anything else to say, it makes them seem more personable and more human and less like the gods we see some of them as. Sara had some wonderful things to add to this article. Here they are: “I thrive off of variety. In addition to disc golf, Shawn and I take care of two adorable furbabies (you can see them at @discgolfin_iggy_lover ), I sing, play piano, take ballet, boxing and boot camp classes, I run, I make bow ties (www.lambowties.com), and we manage an Airbnb in Bowling Green, KY. My job full-time job is as a marketing strategist for Ob Hospitalist Group. As much as I love disc golf, I think I would lose my passion for it if it were the only thing I did. My favorite thing to do is to play a solo round every now and then and just enjoy the outdoors.”
I would like to thank Sara for taking the time out of her day to answer my questions and letting me interview her for this article. If you would like to know more about her you can find her on all forms of social media. If you want to know more about the doubles event you can follow this link to the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/events/1710277375678538/. Please look out for more coming soon!