Lindsey Lightner had quite an experience recently.
Lightner, a 2007 graduate of Olathe North High School, was the United States flag bearer during the opening ceremonies for the Solheim Cup women’s golf competition Sept. 17 in Heidelberg, Germany.
Lightner said the ceremony’s director wanted the flag bearer to be a female who was in the United States military and also enjoyed golf.
Lightner said she was selected after officials reached out to the professional on the course at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, where Lightner is an Airman First Class working as a network infrastructure technician.
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The golf pro knew of Lightner through intramural golf, since Lightner was the coach of her squadron’s team this season.
“It was an amazing experience,” Lightner said in an email. “From the moment I arrived I was treated as a VIP. I was allowed access to restricted areas where the players were coming and going. I met so many people from around the world, very important people in the world of golf for that matter. My parking spot was next to both John A. And John K. Solheim’s. I met the U.S. coach, Juli Inkster, and European coach Carin Koch among many others.”
While at the event, Lightner met European flag bearer and Swedish golfer Caroline Larsson, who lost a leg in 2011 due to cancer.
Lightner was not able to stay for the entire tournament, but she followed the play and was proud that the American team rallied to win the biennial women’s golf event.
“It gave me chills and a great sense of pride to be cheering and supporting for the United States during this spectacular tournament,” she said.
Lightner said she is a big fan of golf, particularly of LPGA star Michelle Wie. Lightner had her first lesson when she was about 10 years old and eventually played golf competitively at Olathe North and Ottawa University.
Lightner said her biggest inspiration for the sport came from her grandmother, Mary Lightner, who won several area tournaments.
“I kept many of her trophies after she died in 2007,” Lightner said.