EDITOR’S NOTE: In recognition of National Bullying Prevention Month and today’s #SpiritDay, Front Row shares the following story. Check back later today in our Captured On/Off Campus section (righthand column) for pictures from ESPN’s #SpiritDay gathering.
During her illustrious playing career on the LPGA Tour, ESPN golf analyst Dottie Pepper was known as a fiery competitor who didn’t back down from anyone and who’s outspokenness sometimes created controversy.
But inside, Pepper was carrying scars from her childhood – memories of bullying she endured from another girl while growing up in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. It was a time she backed down and didn’t speak out.
Pepper has opened up about her past while talking about her new children’s book, “Bogey Tees Off – A Lesson About Bullying,” her third book about a golf ball named Bogey Balton. In the new book, Bogey becomes an easy target for a group of bullies at Best Ball School until his pal Daisy and other students stand up to the bullies.
Pepper has found the book process with co-author Scott Fuller to be very cathartic.
“This was highly personal,” said Pepper, whose voice cracked with emotion as she admitted refusing to attend her 30th high school reunion a few years ago because her bully, who still lives in the area, would be there.
“As we went through the story, in many ways it was a lot of things I had experienced because when Bogey had his scooter stolen, that was my bicycle that was stolen by my bully,” she said. “A bicycle that I worked all winter long to make enough money for to pay off on layaway. She broke into our garage and stole it, then went on to brag about it.”
While writing the book was personally fulfilling, her main purpose is to help others who are being bullied.
“I think it’s a tool for kids but also for parents and for educators,” she said, adding that the book provides suggestions for helping bullied children talk about what is happening to them.
“In my situation, I just clammed up,” she said. “Because I had to get on the bus and had to face that person every day. In fact it would have been better if I had addressed it straight up. And I think that’s where a lot of kids are – they’re afraid to address it because of what might happen as a result.”