'The childcare center has been a lifesaver for me," says 20-time LPGA Tour winner Cristie Kerr
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., June 11, 2019 – The timing could not be more perfect: as the LPGA Tour experiences a 'Baby Boom', The J.M. Smucker Company is extending its partnership with the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) while it celebrates the 25th anniversary of its support for the LPGA Child Development Center.
The LPGA pioneered the concept of providing the children of its athletes with high quality and familiar child development services and, in 1993, the Smucker LPGA Child Development Center became the first traveling childcare center in the world of professional sports. The program has provided childcare services to LPGA athletes and staff since its inception and has been invaluable in helping the LPGA's athlete moms continue their careers after having children.
Three full-time credentialed child development staff members, led by the center’s director, Bardine May, travel to each LPGA Tour event in North America to provide consistent care and education for the children of players. The facility is also supported by temporary credentialed staff and volunteers. This year, the Smucker LPGA Child Development Center will travel to 21 LPGA tournaments in North America.
"I don't think there will ever be enough ways to say thank you to The J.M. Smucker Company for all they have done to support the Smucker LPGA Child Development Center," said Heather Daly-Donofrio, a two-time winner on the LPGA Tour who retired from competition in 2008 and is now the LPGA's Chief Tour Operations Officer. "Smucker was way ahead of the times when they signed on to support our athletes 25 years ago with full-time childcare, enabling our athletes to show the world that they can be both world-class athletes and world-class mothers.
"I for one would not have been able to continue to play professionally without the help of Smucker. Having access to the Child Development Center gave me the peace of mind I needed to focus on my game, while creating a safe environment for my daughter Hannah to grow. Among the lasting effects of her time in the Child Development Center are the friendships she made. Born four days apart, Hannah and Reese Plagmann (daughter of former LPGA Tour player Leta Lindley) grew up together in the program and they are still the best of friends today."
"Our long-term relationship with the LPGA and sponsorship of the Child Development Center is a reflection of our commitment to thriving families and kids," said Jill Penrose, Senior Vice President, Human Resources and Corporate Communications, The J.M. Smucker Company. "We are deeply invested in the development of children and encouraging the professional growth and advancement of women through a wide variety of programs, including everything from national and local community partnerships to offering on-campus childcare to employees at our corporate headquarters. We applaud the LPGA for its vision to launch this program and to continue to be one of the only professional sports organizations that offers childcare to its players."
The LPGA has worked to provide programs and policies to help its players pursue their goals both as an elite athlete and as a mom while helping them thrive on and off the golf course as they travel with their young children. In 2019, the LPGA introduced an updated maternity policy that is designed to help provide new mothers with more flexibility in regard to maternity leave while the childcare center plays a fundamental role for those moms who have returned to competition on Tour.
"The LPGA Child Development Center has been a lifesaver for me," said 20-time LPGA Tour winner Cristie Kerr who has two sons, Mason and Griffin. "I certainly wouldn't have been able to keep playing on Tour without all their help. Not only do they give you the time to compete but also the time to practice and to rehab, along with anything else that we need as LPGA Tour players. My son Mason loves it in the daycare center. He has so many friends there and he asks to go there all the time, even when we don't have a tournament that week!"
Over the past two years, the LPGA has experienced a 'Baby Boom' with eight new arrivals being welcomed to the Tour family. Eleven mothers are currently competing on the LPGA Tour and that trend is set to continue this year with Sarah Jane Smith, Jackie Stoelting and Brittany Lincicome all expecting babies in 2019.
Former Rolex Rankings No. 1 Stacy Lewis, a 12-time winner on the LPGA Tour, had her first child last year and started using the Smucker LPGA Child Development Center during the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions in mid-January.
"Gosh, there's no way I could do what I'm doing (on the LPGA Tour) without the day care," said Lewis, whose daughter Chesnee Lynn was born on October 25. "To have someone travel with you full-time or to have a nanny, it doesn't really seem possible. I know Chesnee is safe in the day care. I know that she's developed quicker because of being in day care, and there's just so many positives from it. I just can't thank Smucker enough."
In September 2010, The J.M. Smucker Company and LPGA Tour formed Team Smucker's® Uncrustables®, which comprises 15 Moms on Tour who act as ambassadors for the brand, the official peanut butter and jelly sandwich of the LPGA.