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Why Not Us: Howard Golf

why not us: howard golf
why not us: howard golf
NBA superstar, Steph Curry (left) shares an interaction with Howard University’s Director of Golf, Sam Puryear (right) in the “Why Not Us: Howard Golf” poster. (Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Last week, the Howard University golf team made its television debut as cast members of the critically acclaimed series “Why Not Us,” produced by Andscape, FILM 45 and ESPN+ Originals.

“Why Not Us: Howard Golf” follows the lives of the coaches and student-athletes as they face the successes and setbacks of a young Division I program whose aim is to bring national awareness and diversity to the game of golf.

Vice President of Original Content Brian Lockhart released a statement stating how inspiring it is to watch the Howard University golf team and Stephen Curry bring their vision to life.

“As we continue to shine a light on HBCU culture through the ‘Why Not Us’ series, we’re inspired by the student-athletes, coaches and administrators who dare to forge their own new legacies while embracing and celebrating the history of their institutions,” saidLockhart. “The story of Howard Golf is particularly interesting, not only for the tremendous, immediate success of the program, but the way in which Coach Puryear, his student-athletes and Steph Curry show us what is possible when you truly believe in a common vision and you put in the work to get there.”

For nearly 50 years, the program had been discontinued. Then, Stephen Curry intervened and helped Howard resurrect and reintroduce men’s and women’s golf in 2021. As a result, the outcomes have been beyond expectations.

Kendall Jackson, a junior sports management major and economics minor from Houston, Texas, is a member of the girl’s golf team. She stated that she chose Howard because she knew she had the chance to make history.

“I chose to play golf at Howard because I knew I had an opportunity to make history. My first year was the inaugural season of the women’s team. Also growing up in predominantly white spaces, the opportunity to attend the most prestigious HBCU and be surrounded by so many driven, passionate, and elite people of color, on top of having a chance to meet NBA superstar, Stephen Curry, the opportunity was too good to pass up,” she said.

According to ESPN, in the three years the program has existed, the men’s golf team has won the PGA Works Collegiate Championship (PWCC) and the de facto HBCU national title for the second consecutive year, shooting 57 strokes better than North Carolina A&T, the runner-up.

In just its second year, the Howard women’s golf team landed three players on the 2023 Women’s Golf Coaches Association All-American Scholar Team, as the squad pursues a Northeast Conference championship.

2022 Howard University graduate and current ESPN Production Assistant, Maya Brown-Edwards, worked on the production of the series. Brown-Edwards shared the importance of doing justice to the university’s program.

“Being part of ‘Why Not Us: Howard Golf,’ especially as an alumna, is surreal and truly honoring. We, the producers at ESPN knew we had a gem on our hands and worked diligently to ensure the Howard Golf story was told authentically and to the highest standard,” said Brown-Edwards. “From being a student when Stephen Curry came to campus in 2019 to setting a premiere date for this eight-part series four years later, it’s a historical full circle moment that I’m elated to have my name attached to.”

Those who have been and currently are Howard University students certainly understand the magnitude of an opportunity to be featured on a platform such as ESPN. For the university, the platform can do wonders, but many expressed excitement about the opportunity to reach a larger community.

Raquel Simpson, a senior majoring in political science with a minor in journalism, has a storyline in the series focusing on her role as the social media manager. She is excited about the impact this series will have on young Black golfers.

“This story will impact young Black golfers because it will show them that possibilities are limitless. Our program started from complete scratch and within three years we achieved so much great merit and success,” she said. “I would hope young black golfers watching this know that they can achieve their goals both in the golf space and academic space, as institutions like HBCUs help amplify and excel students from our community.”

“Why Not Us: Howard Golf” launched on Monday, Aug. 21, with episodes one through four airing on ESPNU and becoming immediately accessible to stream on ESPN+.

Copy edited by Whitney Meritus