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Professional golfer Paige Spiranac shows us her life in pictures

Professional golfer Paige Spiranac shows us her life in pictures

Golf

Paige Spiranac is one of the most popular athletes on social media, with millions of followers on her Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages. She’s known for being the “hot golfer” on tour and posting trick-shot videos on her pages, but her story goes much deeper than that. Paige became a professional golfer, but it took a lot of hard work to get there. And on the way, she faced a massive controversy that would come to define her life.

Paige Spiranac shows us who she is

Paige Spiranac is an American social media personality and professional golfer. Spiranac is one of the more unique athletes in her sport. The Chive described her as “a sexy, athletic, smart, nerd.” Spiranac tries to use her influence to show how much fun golf can be and to make the world a better place.

Golf Digest

She also uses her platform to promote anti-bullying, speaking out on the experiences she went through when she was young. Spiranac likes to embrace the fun in life, posting fun videos on social media to inspire and encourage her followers. But there’s more to the 25-year-old than just her social media pages.

Paige tells her story

Paige Spiranac was born in Denver, Colorado on March 26, 1993. Growing up as an athlete, she discovered golf almost by accident and ended up becoming one of the most famous golfers on the planet. The 25-year-old has millions of followers on all her social media pages, and she has graced the covers of countless magazines.

Forbes

But it wasn’t always so glamorous for Spiranac. To get to where she is today, the golfer went through some of the biggest ups and downs one could possibly go through. Her career has always been surrounded by controversy, and she still deals with it on a daily basis.

Sports are in her DNA

Paige was born into an athletic family. Her father, Dan Spiranac, played college football at the University of Pittsburgh. In 1976, his team won a NCAA championship. Her mother Annette, meanwhile, became a professional ballerina. Sports are in the Spiranac family’s DNA.

(Photo by @_paige.renee/Instagram)

But it wasn’t just Spiranac’s parents who were athletic. Paige’s older sister Lexie went to Stanford University on an athletic scholarship and competed on the track and field team. Paige grew up in Monument, Colorado, and she dreamed of one day becoming an Olympic athlete. With the pressure of coming from such an athletic family, would Paige achieve her goals? Or would her dreams eventually be crushed?

She wanted to become a gymnast

With Olympic dreams, Paige began to train in the sport of gymnastics. Sports are in her DNA, so it should be no surprise that Spiranac immediately began to dominate. Determined to become a great athlete like her parents, Paige trained six days per week, sometimes for up to seven hours at a time.

Golf Digest

Paige was a star, especially when it came to the vault and floor routines. She jumped from level six to Elites, which is like becoming a professional athlete straight out of high school. One day, Spiranac was invited to the Karoli camp, which indicated she was on track to have a chance at one day competing in the Olympics.

But her Olympic dreams get crushed

With all of her success in gymnastics, Paige moved to Colorado Springs so she could train at the gym that produced some of the biggest names in gymnastics, like Kerri Strug. Spiranac also started home-school, in part because it gave her more time to focus on her career in gymnastics.

(Photo by @_paige.renee/Instagram)

But one day, disaster struck. When Paige was 12, she fractured her kneecap on multiple occasions. The injuries were serious enough that she was no longer able to compete as a gymnast. With no school to attend or sport to compete in, it felt like everything had gone wrong for Spiranac.

She was bullied growing up

Part of why Spiranac was home-schooled was because she was bullied a lot in school. Paige had a severe case of asthma, which meant she couldn’t sleep over at friends’ houses. She also had a rare scalp condition that caused her hair to fall out. Because of this, she wore her hair in a bowl cut.

Paige Spiranac

(Photo by @_paige.renee/Instagram)

Paige says the problems she faced made her a target for the bullies at school. She felt like the weird kid with all the problems and says other kids basically shunned her. Spiranac even claims other kids threw rocks at her during recess, just like bullies have done in movies.

Paige starts to golf

With gymnastics no longer an option due to her injuries, Paige had to decide whether she wanted to keep competing in sports. She tried tennis for a bit, taking lessons from her aunt who was a former pro. But Spiranac didn’t feel as interested in tennis as she’d been in gymnastics.

Paige Spiranac

(Photo by @_paige.renee/Instagram)

One day, Paige’s father suggested she try golfing. She gave it a shot and immediately fell in love. From that point forward, Spiranac was committed to becoming a professional golfer. Paige continued home-school, focusing a lot of her time on the course so she could one day become a professional.

She was born to play golf

Spiranac started to compete on Colorado’s junior golf circuit, and she immediately found success. Though she was still early into her golf career, Paige won five tournaments in just seven tries on the circuit. When she won the 2010 CWGA Junior Stroke play, she became a top-20 junior player in the world.

Paige Spiranac

(Photo by @_paige.renee/Instagram)

Paige’s early success in tournament play made her a hot commodity in the golfing community. Playing on the Future Collegians World Tour, she became a top-five college recruit. She became a two-time West Region Player of the Year and even a first-team All-American. Only one question remained: where would Paige go to college?

Paige gets a scholarship

With interest from many top college programs, Spiranac ultimately decided to accept a scholarship to the University of Arizona. Coming from a small town in Colorado, attending Arizona was a big culture shock for the golfer. Being a golfer and home-school student, she’d never really spent a lot of time with people her own age.

Getty Images

During her freshman year, Spiranac only competed in three different events. Her best score of the year was a 73, which she reached twice in a single tournament. But Arizona didn’t feel right. She says she became the victim of “mean girl stuff,” claiming other female athletes had spread some nasty rumors about her.

The golfer transfers to SDSU

Spiranac became miserable in Arizona, so she decided to transfer to San Diego State University. For the first time in her life, Paige felt like she was welcomed by her peers into an environment that worked for her. Her coach, Leslie Spalding, deeply believed in Paige’s potential to become a great golfer.

Paige Spiranac

(Photo by @_paige.renee/Instagram)

Finally, Paige started to translate her raw skills into tournament success. In her sophomore year, the golfer earned First-Team All Mountain West honors after earning fifth- and sixth-place finishes in two tournaments. At the NCAA Central Regional Championships, she finished in 19th place. Things were finally moving in the right direction.

Paige hits her stride as a golfer

After a stellar sophomore year at SDSU, Spiranac worked even harder to accomplish her golfing goals. In her junior year, the golfer earned Second-Team All-Mountain West Honors. But this time, when she competed in the Mountain West Championship, she finished in the top-10.

(Photo by @_paige.renee/Instagram)

By the time her senior year came around, Paige had been named captain of her golf team. “Paige had a profound impact on changing the culture of the team,” said coach Leslie Spalding. Spiranac’s coach says she had a contagious work ethic and personality. And by her senior year, the whole golf team was rallying around Paige.

She wins a championship

Prior to Paige’s arrival, the SDSU Aztecs had never won a conference in women’s golf. But by the time Spiranac was a senior, they were favorites heading into the Mountain West tournament. Paige was stellar throughout her senior year, and she earned all-conference honors. But her season would not be complete without a championship.

Paige Spiranac

(Photo by @_paige.renee/Instagram)

At the Mountain West tournament, Paige led things off for the Aztecs. The front nine was tough for her, as she ended up four over par. But with a dominant back nine, she finished with an even-par 36. Spiranac’s contribution was key, and it helped propel San Diego State to victory.

She celebrates the huge victory

With the first championship in school history, Paige and her teammates had a huge celebration. After the victory, they all plunged into Poppy’s Pond next to the 18th green. Spiranac says it was one of the absolute happiest moments of her entire life.

(Photo by @_paige.renee/Instagram)

But eventually, Spiranac’s seemingly perfect circumstances would become what they’d been before. During their senior year, the golf team made a trick-shot video that got some serious attention on the Internet. Soon after, however, Paige’s Instagram feed started to fill up with harassment and hurtful messages. People called her awful names, told her she was ugly and even said she was a horrible golfer.

Paige starts to get attention

While she was golfing competitively, Spiranac also enjoyed to play golf in a more relaxing setting. She started to make golf trick-shot videos and post them on her social media pages. The video Paige and her teammates posted gave her a taste of Internet fame, but it also taught her that with that type of fame also comes a lot of unwanted attention.

(Photo by @_paige.renee/Instagram)

At the time, Spiranac was still working on her game in hopes of becoming a professional golfer. But getting a spot on the tour was increasingly difficult. Fortunately, Paige’s newfound Internet fame actually helped her get her start as a professional golfer.

The golfer becomes Internet famous

Before Paige Spiranac came around, golf and social media didn’t really mix. But as Paige continued to post trick-shot videos, she started to get more and more attention. One day, without her knowledge, a friend of Spiranac sent a photo of her to a writer at a popular sports blog called TFM (Total Frat Move).

Paige Spiranac

(Photo by @_paige.renee/Instagram)

TFM spotlighted Paige on the blog, and her social media pages immediately went viral. Spiranac had about 10,000 followers when TFM shouted her out. Two days later, more than 100,000 people were following Paige. As her pages continued to grow, opportunities started to present themselves to the golfing sensation.

She gets invited to a pro tournament

With Paige’s popularity surging, she started to get approached from seemingly everyone. Equipment and apparel companies, possible agents, and even tournament organizers started to take notice of the star golfer. In the summer of 2015, Spiranac received an unexpected, life-changing direct message on Twitter.

Paige Spiranac

(Photo by @_paige.renee/Instagram)

The message came from a golf executive in Dubai, who invited her to play in a professional tournament. It was actually the first time he ever invited a player to a tournament via social media. The tournament had been struggling to find effective ways to raise awareness, so inviting Paige — a golfer with one of the biggest circles of influence in the sport — to play was an easy decision.

Paige accepts the invitation

Despite her popularity, Spiranac wasn’t making all that much money at the time of her invitation. She dreamed of playing professionally, but she had a long way to go before she could become a pro. Despite their athletic achievement, Paige’s parents didn’t have the money to pay for her travels on the mini-tours.

(Photo by @_paige.renee/Instagram)

Spiranac had been hoping to become a pro, and the invitation was her golden opportunity. What young, hungry aspiring professional golfer wouldn’t take advantage of the opportunity, especially with a sponsor offering to pay the airfare? Paige accepted the invitation, and she was set to make her pro debut in Dubai, in December 2015.

The golfer is criticized for her decision

Despite accomplishing one of her biggest goals, Paige faced a huge wave of backlash. Hall of Fame golfer Laura Davies said she didn’t know Spiranac “from a bar of soap.” One headline about the golfer read “with more selfies than birdies, golf shouldn’t need Paige Spiranac.”

Paige Spiranac

(Photo by @_paige.renee/Instagram)

Even though other players were upset with her appearance at the tournament, Paige understood. She mentioned the only pictures newspapers printed of her were selfies in tight dresses, which didn’t present the whole truth of who she was as a golfer. It was the one of the first times anyone was building a career through social media, so no one — including Spiranac — knew exactly how to react.

Paige plays in her first pro tournament

Spiranac finally made it to Dubai. When she arrived, she was so nervous that she puked from all the anxiety. Paige missed the cut, finishing in 101st place out of 107. But though she fell short, her presence at the tournament had an impact no one could’ve ever expected.

Getty Images

Paige created a media frenzy like the tournament had never seen before. TV crews came to the pro-am and press conferences for the first time ever, and the tournament blew up on social media. More importantly, the pro players on the tour realized the exposure Paige brought gave them an opportunity to showcase their skills to a big audience.

But she questions whether she should keep playing

Paige brought exposure to the tournament, but she returned home more frustrated about her low placing at the event. At one point, she was even ready to walk away from golf and all of the attention that came with it. But after receiving mentorship and training from a friend, she realized she wanted to return to the sport — and win.

(Photo by @_paige.renee/Instagram)

The golfer worked harder than she’d ever worked before, completely rebuilding her swing. And rather than accepting the offers from tournaments that kept coming in, she decided to refine her game. She started playing on the Cactus Tour, which paid far less than the tournaments that repeatedly sent her invitations.

Paige becomes a top amateur golfer

In her Cactus Tour debut, Spiranac finished in a tie for 14th place, winning a prize of just $100 out of the $12,080 purse. Even in women’s professional golf tournaments, that’s a microscopic prize. But Paige quickly turned things around, finishing in a third-place tie at her next event and qualifying for the Scottish Open (in which she finished 58th).

Paige Spiranac

(Photo by @_paige.renee/Instagram)

Then, at Scottsdale’s Orange Tree Country Club, Spiranac did something she’d never done before: She won a tournament. Facing Hannah O’Sullivan, then the top-ranked amateur in the world, Paige came out on top in a sudden-death victory. With the victory, she became one of the top-25 amateurs in the world.

Spiranac’s pro golf career comes to a close

Paige continued to compete on the Cactus Tour, but she never managed to win another tournament. She managed a couple more top-five finishes but eventually made the decision to switch to social media full-time. Where a top-five finish at a tournament could often pay less than $1,000 in winnings, a sponsored post on Spiranac’s social media could bring in thousands of dollars.

Getty Images/Instagram

Spiranac never officially retired, but her professional golf career ended after she returned to Dubai and missed the cut once again in 2016. With the retirement, however, Paige now had free time to start working with sponsors and spark her social media career.

Paige makes it her mission to grow the sport

She may not have realized it at the time, but no female athlete in the world saw more engagement from their followers than Spiranac. When she decided to pursue social media, Paige’s agent introduced her to women’s golf legend Annike Sorenstam.

Paige Spiranac

(Photo by @_paige.renee/Instagram)

Sorenstam was an eight-time Player of the Year and won 72 LGPA tournaments. But the superstar golfer reminded Spiranac that she was best known for a weekend in 2003, when she played against the men. In other words, the sport of women’s golf could use someone with Paige’s influence. In order to earn respect, more people needed to take the sport seriously.

The golfer partners with anti-bullying groups

As a social media influencer, Paige makes her living by promoting brands to her passionate audience. Since retiring, she’s worked with several brands. One of the deals she signed was with Parsons Xtreme Golf, in which she would focus on growing the game of women’s golf, inspiring women, healthy living, and promoting anti-bullying.

Paige Spiranac

(Photo by @_paige.renee/Instagram)

After growing up as a target of bullying, she also decided to team up with Cybersmile Foundation, which is a group that provides global support and educational programs to help combat cyberbullying. She has also worked with 18Birdies, which is a golf app that’s designed to make golf a more social sport.

She works to encourage kids who are bullied

Spiranac has worked very hard to make a difference in the lives of kids who have been bullied. She has been outspoken about bullying on social media and has even spoken to kids at the Boys and Girls Club about her experiences with bullying.

Paige Spiranac

(Photo by @_paige.renee/Instagram)

In 2017, Paige returned to the Dubai Ladies Masters and spoke about all the abuse she had endured as a professional golfer — from people online, to even reporters and fellow golfers. Though she wasn’t able to latch on as a professional golfer, Spiranac knows she can still have just as positive of an impact on the world by using her platform to speak about the causes she cares about.

Paige falls in love

In 2016, Spiranac received a life-changing direct message on Instagram. It was a minor-league baseball player named Steven Tinoco. One night, he ran into her in the lobby of a Top Golf and asked to take a picture. The next day, he sent her the photo on Instagram and asked her out on a date.

Paige Spiranac

(Photo by @_paige.renee/Instagram)

Being asked out over social media wasn’t anything new to Paige, but she said the message he sent was the nicest DM she had ever received. She played hard-to-get for months, but the two finally met up when Spiranac was getting her clubs tuned up at the Callaway facility in Carlsbad, California.

She gets engaged and sets the wedding plans

When Paige went on her first date with Steven, she admired his old-fashioned manners. She was happy that he took her on a real date and appreciated how he bought her flowers and opened up doors for her. He was a refreshing change from the men she’d previously dated.

Paige Spiranac

(Photo by @_paige.renee/Instagram)

Spiranac says he’s just a really nice, respectful guy who has a good heart. Though she’d been in a few prior bad relationships, she was excited to finally find a good one. He later proposed to her in Dubai, and the couple is preparing to get married in the near future.

NEXT: A Pole Vaulting Star With An Eerily Similar Story… 

Allison Stokke becomes a pole vaulter

When people become famous, they prefer to be recognized for their hard work, drive or talent. But what happens when someone gets famous for something that’s completely out of his or her control? That’s exactly what happened to Allison Stokke.

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Today, she’s a famous pole vaulter and fitness model. But back in 2007, when she was just 17 years old, Allison Stokke became a viral phenomenon overnight. The controversy surrounding Stokke broke the internet — before breaking the internet was even a thing. You won’t believe what the record-breaking athlete had to go through to get her life back together.

Allison Stokke becomes a pole vaulter

Born in Newport Beach, California, Allison Stokke grew up in a competitive athletic family. Her older brother, David, was a national youth level gymnast. Following in her brother’s footsteps, Allison Stokke tried gymnastics to see if she too could become a gymnast. However, she eventually came to realize gymnastics was not her true passion.

Allison Stokke smiles as she competes in the pole vault

Photo by Kirby Lee/WireImage

Instead, she found her passion in pole vaulting. Over the course of her school tenure, Stokke would grow to become an incredible pole vaulter, and she’d eventually compete at the highest level of her sport. But to her horror, the attention she eventually attracted would jeopardize her entire career and change her life forever.

She already starts to break records

Allison Stokke’s incredible career as a pole vaulter began in high school. Still new to the sport, she immediately began to find success. In 2004 — her first year competing in track and field — Allison recorded a vault of 3.86 meters (12 feet, 7 ¾ inches), which broke the American record for high school freshmen.

Allison Stokke breaks pole vault records almost immediately

Photo by Kirby Lee/WireImage

With that one big leap, her vault was the best ever recorded by an American 15-year-old. Allison’s incredible feat would mark the start of a promising athletic profession, but while the achievement was the first of many in her career as a pole vaulter, it also marked the beginning of a path towards a massive controversy.

Allison Stokke becomes a champion

Stokke’s record-setting vault was impressive, but she was just scraping the surface of what would become an incredible pole vaulting career. At the end of her freshman year, the track and field sensation went on to win the CIF California State Championship. It was the first championship of her high school career, but it wouldn’t be her last.

Superstar pole vaulter Allison Stokke focuses as the prepares to take off

Photo by Kirby Lee/WireImage

Allison was becoming a full-blown superstar in the world of pole vaulting, shattering the expectations of herself and her peers.  But with each record she would break and each championship she would win, the closer she inched towards the controversy that would come to define her life.

She breaks another pole vault record

One record wasn’t enough for the up-and-comer. Just a year after making history as a 15-year-old, the track and field sensation did it again. As a sophomore, she leaped to a new personal best: 4.11 meters (13 feet, 5 ¾ inches). Her mark would set a new high school sophomore record.

Allison Stokke warms up before she attempts a pole vault

Photo by Kirby Lee/WireImage

It also stood as the best vault ever recorded by an American 16-year-old. Unfortunately, her luck would run out, and she would eventually reach the first setback of her career — one which would cause her to question whether or not pole vaulting was too dangerous for her own safety.

Things take a shocking turn

By the end of 2005, Allison Stokke had already become one of the most successful high school pole vaulters in the history of the sport. But as they say, all good things come to an end. And in this case, a horrifying injury would beg an even more terrifying question: Was pole vaulting a sport that could jeopardize her long-term health?

Newport Harbor High's Allison Stokke sprints down the runway

Photo by Kirby Lee/WireImage

In a practice session, the defending state champion was testing a larger pole she had never used. She took off — and didn’t get a high enough vault to push her clear to the landing pad. Seconds later, disaster struck.

She suffers a major injury

In her practice session at Golden West College, Allison Stokke landed awkwardly in the concrete launch box. Later on, her fear was confirmed: the superstar athlete had broken the tibia in her right ankle. The injury would require surgery. Allison Stokke, the defending California state champion, was unable to compete for the rest of the season.

Allison Stokke lands awkwardly after her pole vault

Photo by Kirby Lee/WireImage

The record-breaking pole vaulter said she was incredibly upset, because she was aiming to win another state championship. Rehabilitation would take four to six months. And during her tough recovery process, Allison was forced to question what could’ve happened if things had gone even worse.

She wins another pole vaulting championship

In the face of adversity for the first time, Allison Stokke stood strong. She came back with a vengeance in her senior year of high school, winning another championship at the CIF California State Meet. With a new best of 4.14 meters (13 feet, 6 ¾ inches), She ranked second in the national high school rankings.

Allison Stokke sprints down the runway, preparing for takeoff

Photo by Kirby Lee/WireImage

To cap off an incredible year and a historic high school career, the superstar pole vaulter finished eighth at the national junior championships. Allison Stokke had finally started to get recognition for her athletic accomplishments — but in a horrifying twist, disaster struck for a second time.

Her story takes a disturbing turn

Allison Stokke drew national attention for her record-breaking pole vaulting career, but soon she would experience a type of attention that would shock her to her core. This was a kind of attention that no one on earth had previously experienced. In 2007, the high school athlete’s popularity skyrocketed for something completely unrelated to her athletic performance, but instead for something many people would consider disturbing.

Allison Stokke looks on as she prepares for her next vault

Photo by Kirby Lee/WireImage

The controversy would last for years, and it would come to define the life of Allison Stokke. People across the world would come to know her name, but not for the right reasons. While she was indeed an athlete before — a record-setting pole vaulter, in fact. But now, she was a target.

This photo of her goes viral

That year, while Allison Stokke was at a competition in New York, a journalist for a California track and field website took a photo of her and posted it online. It was something the photographer had done plenty of times before — but this time, it was different. The photographer captured an innocent photo of the superstar athlete in the midst of a competition.

The 'hot pole vaulter' photo that made Allison Stokke go viral

Photo by Stefano Cobucci/Flickr

This photograph didn’t seem to be anything out of the ordinary. But the picture would eventually circulate to the wrong people, and Allison Stokke — who had just turned 18 years old — would begin to get attention from a dark and disturbing place.

‘Pole Vaulting is Sexy, Barely Legal’

One day, the photograph of Allison Stokke was sent to sports blogger Matt Ufford, who owned a blog called With Leather. The blog was known for its objectification of women, particularly in the area of sports — and Stokke became its next target. Matt Ufford saw the photograph and decided to share it with his readers, titling the blog ‘Pole Vaulting is Sexy, Barely Legal.’

Allison Stokke smiles for a photo before she prepares for her next pole vault

Photo by Kirby Lee/WireImage

The blog, written just two months after Allison Stokke turned 18, drew massive attention to the photo of the pole vaulter competing, and it took the internet by storm. However, when the photo was taken, Allison Stokke was still only 17 years old. Was it even legal for Matt Ufford to publish this blog?

Allison Stokke goes on damage control

In his blog, Matt Ufford commented on the physical attractiveness of 17-year-old Allison Stokke. His remarks were not only disturbing, but they immediately introduced a legal issue into the already shocking story. The article’s popularity, the sexual nature of Matt Ufford’s remarks and the sexually-charged responses from Ufford’s audience disturbed many people, including the photographer who took the viral photo of Allison Stokke.

Allison Stokke rests after pole vaulting

Photo by Kirby Lee/WireImage

In a desperate attempt to put a stop to the controversy, the photographer threatened to sue Matt Ufford if he did not remove the photo of Allison Stokke from his website. Despite the photographer’s best attempts to protect her, the controversy surrounding Stokke continued to gain more and more attention. Her once simple life had now spun into a chaotic frenzy.

She becomes the center of attention

By the time the photographer tried to prevent the photo of Allison Stokke from spreading, it was already too late. Dozens of websites had already shared the photo, spreading it across the internet like wildfire. Allison Stokke had become the center of attention on the internet, but the kind of attention she was receiving was something no one would ever want.

Newport Harbor High's Allison Stokke sprints down the runway

Photo by Kirby Lee/WireImage

People weren’t talking about Allison Stokke’s impressive achievements as a pole vaulter. Instead, they were making sexual comments about what she looked like when she was 17 years old. As the images continued to circulate social media, things only got worse.

She becomes ‘internet famous’, but miserable

Allison Stokke had gone completely viral. And with her unwanted fame came the kind of attention every parent fears. As the situation spiraled out of control, a tribute website dedicated to Stokke emerged. The website featured several images of her competing in the pole vault, and it attracted an audience that continued to make Allison Stokke’s life miserable.

Allison Stokke prepares to jump

Photo by Kirby Lee/WireImage

Soon after, some people created internet fan groups that attracted thousands of followers. And as if that attention wasn’t enough, news media across the U.S. began to catch hold of the horrifying story. Allison Stokke was about to become a global storyline.

Her story breaks the Internet

It only took a couple of weeks for the photos of Allison Stokke to turn her into a global phenomenon. Her story was published in newspapers and magazines around the world, from The Washington Post to the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, the BBC, The Sydney Morning Herald and German magazine Der Spiegel.

Allison Stokke brings her feet up as she prepares to clear the pole

Photo by Kirby Lee/WireImage

CBS also covered the story on television, warning people about the dangers of the internet being used to publicly sexualize young people. Allison had gone from a celebrated pole vaulter to a poster child for the terrible things that could go wrong in the life of a high schooler. Worst of all, the controversy didn’t even stop there.

She looks for outside help

Allison Stokke tried to control the narrative on her own, but she eventually decided she needed help. After all, she’d been bombarded with emails and requests for photo shoots. She and her family eventually decided to hire a media consultant. They hoped the consultant would help with the media requests and tell the story in a way that celebrates Allison Stokke for who she is instead of what she looks like.

Alison Stokke pole vaulting

Photo by Kirby Lee/WireImage

Allison Stokke pulls her feet towards the sky as she prepares to launch (Photo by Kirby Lee/WireImage)Stokke gave an interview on pole vaulting technique, which was uploaded to YouTube. The video received hundreds of thousands of views. But to her disappointment, the comments and discussions on the video mostly remained sexual and related to her looks. It felt like Allison couldn’t possibly escape the attention she’d been receiving.

Allison Stokke looks to make a legal case

All this newfound stardom and opened a Pandora’s box of issues that would require a closer look into the legal implications of internet fame and privacy rights. A lawyer by trade, Allison Stokke’s father decided to begin reviewing online materials to identify illegal behavior or stalkers. Allison Stokke had been receiving so much unwanted attention that the safety of her and her family became a priority issue.

Allison Stokke looks on as she prepares to take on the pole vault

Photo by Kirby Lee/WireImage

If her father could find something potentially illegal, there would be a possibility that the information he found could be used to shut down the “fan” sites that were sexualizing Allison Stokke once and for all. As her father desperately searched for solutions, the pressure continued to mount up. Eventually, it appeared as though Allison was out of answers.

She becomes a sex symbol against her will

All of the attention Stokke received began to take a toll. In an interview with The Washington Post, the famous pole vaulter said that “even if none of it is illegal, it just all feels really demeaning.” She mentioned how her hard work as a pole vaulter felt like it didn’t even matter, because nobody saw her as an athlete. Instead, they saw her as a sex symbol.

Allison Stokke measures her steps in preparation for her next attempt

Photo by Kirby Lee/WireImage

German magazine Der Spiegel, who wrote a story on Allison Stokke, pointed out that she had become a “sex symbol against her will.” The attention had a psychological effect on the high schooler. Stokke said that she found her newfound popularity “creepy and a little scary,” and she started to become more careful about locking doors behind her.

She tries to get away from it all

In an article on about Stokke’s accomplishments and controversy both, the Los Angeles Times pointed out that the athlete did not ever seek or endorse the disturbing type of attention she had been receiving. A sex symbol against her will, Allison Stokke had gone viral for something she had no control over. Every effort she and her family made to prevent strangers from invading her privacy seemed to result in strangers becoming even more invasive than they already were.

Allison Stokke poses for a photo

Photo from Instagram/@allisonstokke

By that point, Allison Stokke was desperate to get through high school and move away to college. A change of scenery could maybe help her leave the entire scandal behind. But with all the attention focused on her, would it even be possible for Allison to live a “normal” life ever again?

She starts a new chapter of her life

As the controversy raged, Allison Stokke needed to get away and start a new chapter of her life. But with so much negative attention on her, would it even be possible for the pole vaulter to go to college and compete for a track and field program?

Allison Stokke takes a selfie

Photo from Instagram/@allisonstokke

Allison Stokke finished in eighth place at the national junior championships in her final year of high school. But college recruiters could still decide the attention she might bring to their team would be too much to handle. She waited and waited for an offer, until she finally decided to make a life-changing decision.

She competes for Cal Berkeley

With a major decision to make, Allison Stokke chose to attend the University of California, Berkeley. The college offered her an athletic scholarship to compete as a pole vaulter for their track and field program. She would compete for coach Scott Slover, one of the most respected coaches in the country and a former five-time All-American at UCLA.

Allison Stokke competes for Cal Berkeley

Photo from Flickr/Avinash Kunnath

Allison Stokke trained hard to prepare for her college career, desperately hoping to continue her pole vaulting success. Would Allison Stokke finally be able to move past the nightmare high school controversy and thrive as a college athlete? Or was the controversy that had haunted her family for years finally be the obstacle she was unable to overcome?

She succeeds at the college level

Allison Stokke wasn’t going to let the controversy stop her. In her first year at UC Berkeley, the track and field superstar broke the school’s freshman record with a vault of 4.11 meters (13 feet, 5 ¾ inches). A year later, she finished eighth at the Pac-10 Championships and seventh at the MPSF Indoor Championships.

Allison Stokke trains with hopes to compete in the Olympics

Photo from Instagram/@allisonstokke

This continued success led to her making her debut at the NCAA Women’s Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships, in which she finished 19th. Finally, it seemed like Allison was back on track. But the star pole vaulter was about to encounter another shocking twist that would alter the course of her life.

Allison Stokke comes up short

By her sophomore year of college, Allison Stokke had added another four inches to her personal best pole vault mark. But despite her improvements, the former star finished eighth at the Pac-10 Championships and seventh at the MPSF Indoor Championships. For the first time in her pole vaulting career, Allison Stokke wasn’t placing near the top in her events.

Allison Stokke attempts to clear the bar

Photo from Instagram/@allisonstokke

In her junior year, the pole vaulter saw another eighth-place finish at the Pac-10 Championships, but this time, she didn’t even qualify for the NCAA Championships. It seemed as though Allison Stokke had reached her peak. Was the former high school superstar’s career as a pole vaulter finally coming to an end?

She tries to compete in the Olympics

With her collegiate career in the rearview mirror, Allison decided to turn her attention and focus her efforts on competing in the London Olympics. In 2012, she reached a new lifetime best of 4.36 meters (14 feet, 3 ½ inches). The mark showed that Stokke had a strong chance to qualify for the Olympics if she could clear that height when it mattered most.

Allison Stokke reaches as far as she can as she attempts to clear the bar

Photo from Instagram/@allisonstokke

She continued putting work into a potential Olympic bid and eventually managed to qualify for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials. With a chance at Olympic glory on the line, Stokke went to the trials. But when she arrived, something unimaginable happened.

She endures a crushing defeat

It seemed like Allison Stokke was well on her way to the London Olympic Games. But when she competed in the 2012 U.S. Olympic trials, something happened that no one could’ve possibly seen coming. At the trials, Allison was unable to even clear the opening height of 4.25 meters (13 feet, 11 ¼ inches).

Allison Stokke, the 'hot pole vaulter'

Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images

Just like that, the track and field superstar’s hopes of representing her country on the world’s biggest stage were crushed. Allison Stokke no longer appeared to have what takes to compete as a professional athlete in her future. With no obvious career path in her immediate future, what would her future hold?

She finds a new beginning as a model

After her Olympic dreams were shattered, Allison Stokke began a new career. Being a professional athlete was no longer in the cards for Allison Stokke. But as it turned out, the hard work she put in as a pole vaulter would help her find a new career in a different field. She has since gone on to do sportswear modeling and performance marketing.

Allison Stokke begins her new modeling career

Photo from Instagram/@allisonstokke

In 2015, she landed her first deal with a major brand, working with Nike. A year later, she modeled for Uniqlo. Finally, it seemed like everything was going well for Allison Stokke. Had she finally moved past all of the life-changing controversies?

She teams up with GoPro

Allison Stokke may have become a sportswear model, but pole vaulting was still very much a part of her career. She began to work with GoPro, recording a series of videos of her pole vaulting with the camera attached to her pole.

Allison Stokke modeling and smiling for a photo

Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The videos were created to show what it’s like to be a pole vaulter and display the unique abilities of the action camera equipment. The video series received millions of views on YouTube, becoming a major success for both GoPro and Allison alike. With her success as a sportswear model, Allison’s career as a pole vaulter seemed to have finally come to a close. But to the former champion, success as a model wasn’t enough.

She continues to pole vault

Though she did not place highly on the national rankings, Allison Stokke continued to compete regularly in national level track meets. In 2016, she finished in eighth place at the Chula Vista OTC High-Performance meet. She made even more improvements in the following year, reaching third place at the 2017 Austin Longhorn Invitational.

Allison Stokke watches Rickie Fowler at the PGA tour

Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Did Allison Stokke have unfinished business as a competitor? Would another shot at the Olympics be in the cards for the 28-year-old? Maybe it could’ve been a possibility for the former superstar. But in the same year she achieved a third-place finish, Allison Stokke’s life took another major turn.

She starts to date Rickie Fowler

2017 was a year of major change for Allison Stokke. While she continued to model and compete in the pole vault, the former young superstar began to date another professional athlete: golfer Rickie Fowler. Like Allison Stokke, Rickie Fowler was a young athletic prodigy. The golfer spent 37 weeks as the number one amateur golfer in the world before he even turned 20 years old.

Rickie Fowler walks with his girlfriend, Allison Stokke, at a PGA Tour event

Photo by Chris Condon/PGA TOUR

It seemed like a perfect match — two competitive, accomplished athletes who had been through controversy but also managed to come out better for it. Everything seemed like it was going great. But a year later, Allison Stokke would face another massive, life-changing question.

She finds her happily ever after

In 2018, Rickie Fowler asked Allison Stokke to be his wife. The athletic power couple got engaged to be married, and prepared to spend the rest of their lives together happily ever after. At that point, Allison Stokke had stopped pole vaulting altogether. In late January of 2019, she posted a video of her pole vaulting on Instagram — it was the first time she had stepped on the runway in a year.

Allison Stokke and Rickie Fowler hug at a PGA Tour event

Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

A month later, Rickie Fowler won the Waste Management Phoenix Open. It was his fifth PGA Tour win, and his first since he and Allison Stokke started dating. After the win, the couple spent the rest of the day celebrating the incredible victory.

Connor Howe has been working in the sports industry for more than a half-decade, having spent time on the writing side as well as the marketing side of professional sports. He's spent time with the San Diego Chargers, Bleacher Report, and SB Nation, among others, and is excited to bring his knowledge and experience to Tiebreaker.

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