Babe Didriksen Zaharias

babetrophy.jpgMildred Ella Didrikson Zaharais was born on Jun 26, 1911 in Port Arthur, Texas. She was born sixth out of her seven brothers and sisters. Her parents Ole Nickolene and Hannah Marie (Olson) Didriksen were Norwegian immigrants. Ole Didriksen was a carpenter and seaman while his wife was an extremely accomplished figures skater in Norway. In the year of 1915 the family moved to Texas. At a young age the children were encouraged to be active participants in sports. Soon Babe became an extremely talented high school basketball player. In her senior year, she was recruited to work at the Employers Casualty Company, doing paperwork. However, she soon found her way into basketball there, helping the woman's semi-professional basketball team. They were known as the the Golden Cyclones. On their team she was a great success. She led the team to two final championships between the years of 1930 and 1932. Because of her amazing skill, the company widened their range of woman's basketball players, inspired by Babe. Babe also represented this company in the Amatuer Athletic Union Championships. She participated in it as a one-woman team in eight of ten track and field events. During this competition she placed in seven of these activities, and broke world-records in four of them. Based on her performance she was qualified to enter the 1932 Olympics in three of these events, javelin throw, hurdle and high jump. She again broke records in all three of these events in the Olympics.
When she returned home from the Olympics, her family was in great need of money. She turned professional to help her family. Didriksen decided that she would become a championship golf player. During her second golf tournament she won the title, after taking lessons with Stan Kertes throughout the entire summer. This was the Texas Women's Amateur Golf Championship. Complaints from fellow golf players during this tournament ban her from playing as an amateur therefore removing her from tournament play.
In 1938, she qualified for the Los Angeles Championship which was a men's tournament.
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In December 23, 1938 she married George Zaharais. After this she went on and won a grand total of 17 consecutive golf tournaments. Finally, in 1947 Babe turned professional. The year after Babe Didriksen Zahrais helped to found the Ladies Professional Golf Association. Another one of her accomplishments was that she was the leading money maker in the LPGA (Ladies Professional Golf Association) between the years of 1949 and 1951. In 1950 Babe was voted Woman Athlete Half-Century by the Associated Press. However, 1953 Babe's life took a little turn in the road. During this time she was diagnosed with cancer and had to have a cancerous tissue surgically removed. She was told that she would never be able to play in golf tournaments again. However, after her surgery she played in a tournament 14 weeks later. The Golf Writers of America voted to to win the Ber Hogan Trophy. She was nominated for this due to the best comeback of the year. Other accomplishments included in 1954, she won five tournaments and played for cancer funds. She was seen as a 'courageous survivor.' In June 1955 she went back to the hospital and was diagnosed with more cancer.
In September of the year 1956, Babe Didrikson Zaharais died of cancer. She was the first women to be a professional at a golf club. She founded the LPGA. She excelled in four sports. She was an amazing woman, and will never be forgotten.