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Golfer puts best foot forward for special needs awareness

Wearing a sock for a cause is the motive for NMSU women’s golfer Amelia McKee, who has a unique style when she’s out on the course. McKee wears one sock up to her knee on her right leg to help spread awareness for special needs. She has been doing so for a little over a decade now starting when she was just 11 years old.

Amelia McKee practices on the NMSU driving range while wearing one of her signature socks depicting a “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.” (Photo by Michael Chavez/Kokopelli)

McKee got the inspiration from her cousin, Cora-Jane Thompson, who is 13 years old and was diagnosed with Down syndrome. McKee stays very active in the special needs community by spending most of her summers as a teaching assistant for special needs kids. She is also a nanny for a little boy who was diagnosed with autism.

McKee is a veteran on the NMSU women’s golf team and the oldest player on the roster. She gets a lot of praise from her teammates for raising awareness. “She brings a lot of spirit while wearing it,” said teammate Alison Gastelum. “Knowing now why she wears [the sock] makes it even more special,” Gastelum said. 

McKee also wears the sock because she wants to make her cousin feel as if she is no different from the rest of us and is always with her while she’s out playing. “I tried to find something that could make me stand out in a way that she didn’t feel as if she was on her own,” McKee said. “Something that I obviously can’t change myself physically or things like that. It gave me a way to stand out and show solidarity to those who are different.”

Every person who sees her wearing it out on the course is always taking notice of it whether that be spectators or even opponents. In a past tournament, NMSU teammate Arantza Armas Stenner said that other players took notice of Amelia’s sock. “We noticed that your teammate is wearing a long sock, and I give them an explanation as to why she wears it, and they said it was really nice and cool,” Armas Stenner said.

McKee, who is a Baylor transfer who played for the Bears her freshman year, absolutely loves the atmosphere at NMSU. She decided to enter the transfer portal at the end of summer right before her sophomore season and was considering seven different schools. She boiled down her decision between two schools and was torn between Kansas State University and New Mexico State University.

She made her decision to come here to Las Cruces and has loved every second of it. McKee gives a lot of credit to head coach Danny Bowen since he was the first coach to contact her after entering the transfer portal. McKee said Coach Bowen was very supportive. She said Bowen told her, “Just so you know, wherever you decide to go, I will be rooting for you — even if you end up at Kansas State.” This was a big reason why she decided to become an Aggie.

McKee, who is from Houston, has been a very successful golfer as an Aggie. She was named WAC Women’s Golfer of the Week, has six top-20 finishes and has won two individual titles while attending NMSU. McKee also contributed to NMSU’s 10th WAC championship last season in May 2021.

McKee’s reason  for wearing the sock is to try to remind people that just because someone is different doesn’t mean they should be treated differently. “It’s a very uneducated area,” Mckee said. “You don’t learn a lot about it unless you grow up around it.”

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