If you’ve hung around in sports journalism long enough, you’ll likely be interviewing some superstars along the way. Just ask a reporter about their favorite interviews and they will tell an amazing story.
And 13-year-old Bella Dovhey of Orlando, Florida can do the same with the likes of Arnold Palmer, Barbara Nicklaus, Sergio Garcia, and Jerry Rice on her resume.
Sprinkle impromptu meetings with Jack Nicklaus, former Homeland Security Secretary and former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge, and actor Alfonso Ribeiro (“Carlton” from Fresh Prince of Bel Air – yes, that Carlton), and it’s a who-is- Who list that could take forever for anyone to reach.
And Bella was first released five years ago at the age of 8!
Dovhey is an accomplished golfer who will represent Team Florida on ESPN2, ESPNews and ESPN + this weekend at the 2021 National Car Rental PGA Jr. League Championship at Grayhawk Golf Club. The editor Terrie Purdum would ask Bella to interview golfers who would come to her golf club.
“Her interviews were optional,” said Bella’s father Mike Dulhvey, a frontline helicopter nurse for Advent Health. “Terri would let things happen. You could see Bella walking up to her and dealing with questions. ”
“Bella Dovhey is an amazing person, she is one [golf] Player, and her personality and her charming manner, stole my heart and Arnold’s heart too, ”explained Purdum. “She wrote some ‘Young Gun’ stories for Florida Golf Central and attended many events on behalf of the magazine. I used to tell her, ‘Play golf for fun, you will be in front of the camera one day. So don’t stress yourself. Just be Bella. ‘”
On the way she got some golf and life advice from the sports legends.
“They became really good mentors,” said Bella, who at the age of 8 won the junior junior Grand Slam circuit – the US Kids Golf European Championship in Scotland, the AAU Golf National Championship in Orlando, the IMG Golf World Championship in San Diego and the US Kids Golf World Championship in Pinehurst, North Carolina.
She won a couple of these events three times each, including one with 18 strokes!
“You’ve helped me and it gives me confidence,” added Bella. Enough confidence to put her on the local high school golf team as a sixth grader.
Just months before his death in 2016, Bella met Palmer at his legendary Bay Hill Golf Club. Bella asked Palmer questions and Ridge would help.
Dovhey told Palmer a story about how she met Barbara and Jack Nicklaus. By then, Bella had developed a bond with Barbara that would lead them to walk the last few holes of the PNC Father-Son Challenge together.
Palmer joked with her, “Jack Nicklaus? Who is this guy? You know him?”
Bella asked Palmer, who had taught him how to play golf at such an amazing level. Palmer quickly pointed to his father and legendary PGA member Deacon Palmer.
“I learned a lot from Arnold Palmer,” explained Bella. “He knew so much about golf and played a long time. He told me that he learned a lot from his trainer. “
At the end of the conversation, Palmer gave Bella a large ball marker to celebrate receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which she used in tournaments.
It wouldn’t be long before Bella wrote a handwritten story and had it published in Florida Golf Central. A short time later, she met Palmer again and showed him the article.
“He loved her story,” said Mike. “Those were really precious moments for a young girl at the age of 8. It was really special. “
At some point, Bella would put her writing career on hold.
“We realized we couldn’t juggle it any further,” said Bella’s mother Pearl Dolhvey, an emergency room nurse at Advent Health. Pearl and Mike balanced a life that included one night shift and the other the day shift.
Even so, Bella still has a treasure trove of memories of her career as a young writer and top junior golfer.
“I wasn’t really expecting it,” said Bella, explaining her reaction when she was first told that she was going to meet Arnold Palmer. “I thought you were kidding.”