Sandy Baer & Company

One From the Heart

    Women in Sports is such an interesting topic. Pairing it with Health and Wellness creates another dimension to the whole idea, too. This month I have taken the topic literally and have invited Sandy Baer to talk about a group of women rather than just herself and to discuss not only their participation in sports together, but to also incorporate the emotional wellness and sisterhood that this bonding brings to the group as a whole.
    The bridge/golf/tennis friendship between this group of women began in 2003 when the first four met at a new member mixer for the Indigo Run Women's Club. They began to attend events together, and since Indigo Run was small at the time, they would introduce each other to new friends. Five-and-a-half  years later, the group has grown, but the original four are still very close friends.
    The bridge expanded into tennis with ease. "One day, between bridge hands, we tossed around the idea of trying to hit a few tennis balls just for the exercise and laughs. Some of us had played in the past and some of us had never played before, so we were truly a mixed bag as far as ability was concerned. In the fall of 2003 we recruited a few more gals and started the ladies social tennis group," said Sandy.
    In five years, their group has grown to 13 members. They play twice a week, year round, even though they have travelers and part-timers. Not everyone plays all the time, but they always keep in contact.
    With more new friends playing tennis and bridge, a new set of interests arose. Someone suggested golf, and the friendships moved to the fairways. The group joined another group and it is all just for fun. Sandy says that even new golfers were not intimidated because all of the other women were so welcoming and encouraging.
    The group friendships supersede the actual sports. The motto is: "Enjoy each other and have fun." How lovely that this loosely-formed group of ladies have bonded together around sport, only to discover so much more of each other.
    "We all get along well because we are not super serious about our sports," said Sandy. "That is not to say that we do not care about our play. We definitely do care, and we are often unhappy with our own skill level and seek improvement. We love to hit an ace, hit a golf ball over the water or make a slam at bridge, but our goal is to enjoy. There are some very talented and skilled ladies among us who could win trophies if they so chose. It is a case of priorities, not skill."
    As you may suspect with any group, there have been times when they have needed each other for more than tennis, golf and bridge. One member has lost a child to cancer, another lost her husband to a lung illness, and a third has dealt with breast cancer. They have had melanomas, knee surgeries, and broken bones. They have also suffered through the illnesses of each other's husbands and acted as a support group for each other. They celebrate together and shed tears together. They also socialize together and yes, sometimes ask husbands to join in events such as Wednesday night karaoke at "Up the Creek" on Broad Creek.
    "As individual personalities, each of us brings something different to the table," said Sandy. "In learning about each other in all the many different ways we have spent time together, we have successfully figured out how to capitalize on each other's strengths and overlook each other's weaknesses."
    Yes, this is a different take on the hard driving women who strive to excel at their chosen sport, but that does not make them any less the sportswomen. Perhaps it makes them even more an example of the true spirit of sportsmanship: enjoyment, pleasure and fitness. The "wellness" aspect of women healing each other and feeling mutual pain is as old as time.

Up Close:

How long have you been here and where did you come from?
A: I moved here from Colts Neck, NJ six years ago. I lived in New Jersey my entire life.

What is your favorite thing about Hilton Head Island?
A: I enjoy the cosmopolitan group of people from all over the USA I have met down here and their different interests and fortes.

Q: Where is your favorite place to be with friends?
A: I like seeing a good movie followed by sitting and talking with a glass of wine and Bang-Bang shrimp at Bonefish Grill.

Q: What is your favorite thing to do on a Sunday afternoon?
A: Steve and I love sipping a good cup of coffee and reading the New York Times.

Q: What is your most cherished possession?
A: I have a gold charm bracelet that my grandmother started for me when I was 13. It is a bracelet full of memories as it has been added to over the years.

Q: Who do you admire?
A: I especially admire my husband who is always optimistic and able to look at a glass as half full. (Sandy's husband is the Hilton Head Island representative to the Beaufort County Council.) He is not afraid to try something new and does not shy away from the unknown. He does his research and approaches a task armed with facts and always projects the positive.