It’s undeniably challenging to balance the needed time commitments as a student-athlete at Penn. It’s certainly difficult to devote time to hobbies outside of the classroom and off the field.
But Penn women’s golf junior Leila Dizon has done the nearly impossible, having spent the last year and a half writing a book that she hopes will be published in the near future.
Unlike many athletes who pick up a sport at a young age, Dizon did not have any influence from her parents to start playing golf. However, at the age of seven, Dizon decided to start playing when she saw a friend bring in her clubs during a “show and tell” day during kindergarten.
Dizon was immediately intrigued by the sport and enrolled at a local golf academy specialized for kids in her hometown of Los Angeles, just a short drive from her house. There, she was able to refine her skills at an early age, allowing her to begin playing competitive golf at the age of 10.
Dizon continued to train at the golf academy for years, which ultimately paid off when she committed to Penn in the summer after her junior year at the Marlborough School.
Dizon’s golf career and writing interest collided in the fall of 2019 as a sophomore at Penn.
“I started writing it on the golf course during a tournament,” Dizon said. “Instead of watching people take their shots, I would write down scene ideas on the back of the pin card.”
While the prospect of writing this book stayed on Dizon’s mind for a while, it wasn’t until the beginning of quarantine and the shutdown of Penn’s campus in March 2020 that the idea of writing the book itself actually manifested.
“At the beginning of quarantine, all of the golf courses were closed, so I would practice in my house during the day, and started writing at night,” Dizon said. “Most courses are fully open now, but I still like to use the nighttime to keep writing.”
Dizon’s book, titled "The Perfect Match", is catered toward young adults, and is a fictional story about an Asian female collegiate golfer, which that Dizon believes lacks representation in today’s world — and something that is very close to home for Dizon.
“I’m Asian, so I wanted to make sure I had an Asian representative in my book,” Dizon said. “I also wanted to include golf because there’s not really any books that portray golf in a fun light, so I just wanted to help make golf look a little more fun than it has in the past.”
Dizon finished her first draft in May 2020, but has since continuously worked to revise her work before sending it off to agents who would ultimately connect her with publishers.
Dizon is part of a mentorship program which pairs aspiring writers with previously published writers in order to provide some guidance through this arduous process. While Dizon hasn’t yet officially sent out her work yet, it generally takes over two years to complete the publishing process.
Dizon has been able to stay regimented while taking this semester at home, along with the majority of her teammates. She typically reserves weekends for training and practice, and is able to manage her schoolwork and writing during the week.
Entering her senior year, Dizon, a Wharton student, hopes to go into investment banking and doesn’t necessarily envision a career as a writer; however, to be able to be a Division I athlete and publish a book is certainly something to be proud of.
It will be a long road to the prospect of seeing Dizon’s work on the shelves of bookstores, but until then she has a college golf career to finish off.
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