Velocity Global, the Official Global Work Platform of the LPGA Tour and the Ladies European Tour (LET), is proud to sponsor the Velocity Global Impact Award. This honor will celebrate players who have helped to grow the sport of golf and to inspire the next generation of athletes to have a positive impact on the world.
Throughout each season, the LPGA and LET will celebrate players and their efforts in giving back to the world and their local communities off the golf course. Toward the end of each season, the LPGA will produce a list of nominees, and the Velocity Global Impact Award Committee will name three players as Award finalists. Each finalist will be featured in a docuseries-style content piece sharing their personal story and impact on the game. The winner will be determined through a combination of a fan vote and voting by the committee, and will be announced annually on International Women’s Day, March 8.
Albane Valenzuela – The Gift of Speech and Connection
Albane Valenzuela, born in New York to a Mexican father and a French mother, and educated in Switzerland and California, is undoubtedly one of the most global golfers on the LPGA Tour.
"I have four passports and a very international family," said Valenzuela, who now makes her home in Dallas. "In Mexico I feel Mexican, in the United States I am American. When I am in France, I also feel French, and I chose to represent Switzerland in the Olympic Games because it is the country where I grew up."
Albane's brilliant amateur golf career, with 11 amateur majors, followed in the wake of her father, Alberto Valenzuela, an international banker and star of the UCLA golf team. Alberto met his future wife, Diane, at an exhibition match at Evian Resort Golf Club, and they eventually had two children, Albane and younger brother Alex.
Albane Valenzuela is multilingual, fluent in Spanish, English and French, along with some German. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa as a Political Science major at Stanford University, and has taken advantage of her globality in her personal life, her approach to golf and her support to a dear cause.
“My brother Alex started his foundation right after the 2019 U.S. Women’s Amateur, when he carried the bag for me,” said Valenzuela about her younger brother Alex, who helped her get to the finals in that event and is the driving force behind ‘Alexis for Autism,’ a foundation that raises funds for associations, foundations, and medical research on autism.
"My brother had his personal battle and I think it's very important to help others. As athletes we have a duty to help people and leverage our platform to talk about causes we care about," Valenzuela said.
“Alex didn't speak until the age of 5, he was totally in his bubble. He did not do well in social environments,” she remembered about her brother’s early childhood. Valenzuela credits her parents, early detection and speech therapy for Alex’s connection with the world. “He just blossomed and now he speaks multiple languages, plays golf in a college team. He's just a completely different kid.”
Alex Valenzuela, now a junior at the Southern Methodist University golf team, is dedicating most of his time, efforts and connections to the next fundraising golf event in the Bahamas. “I'm trying to make people more aware about autism. My experience was not very easy, and I was very lucky that I had my parents to help me,” said Alex, who already put together an event in Switzerland in 2018 where he raised around $300,000 for research.
This time, his focus in on speech therapy. “I want to hire a speech therapist on the island so we can help kids that have no access to it because of poverty. I just want to raise funds for this cause because there is a need in the Bahamas, which is now my new home,” said Alex.
“I like speaking about it, but he’s honestly the one at the forefront. He goes directly to people that have funds and asks them to help. He is not afraid to just reach out,” Albane Valenzuela added about Alex’s dedication and his new attitude “outside the bubble.”
“Through this foundation we are trying to give people hope and tell them that it doesn't matter where you are on the spectrum, there's still ways to have progress. It's more a matter of dealing with it and growing with it and just finding some kind of balance,” added Albane, who has regularly benefited from Alex’s caddying skills, including at the Tokyo Olympics, where she tied for 18th.
“What we both do works, and we can get there as long as we commit to it and we continue working hard. Some good things can happen and that's how we help each other out,” said Alex about their close sibling relationship and their multinational family affair with golf.
After earning her LPGA Tour card for the 2020 season, 24-year-old Albane has had her best year in 2022, with top-10 finishes at the Palos Verdes Championship presented by Bank of America (T9) and the Shoprite LPGA Classic presented by Acer (T4). She is currently 124th in the Rolex Ranking and 58th in the Race to the CME Globe, after making the cut in her last two majors.
"It's been a little bit of a roller coaster," she said of her two initial years in the LPGA Tour, a career that began with the worldwide pandemic, not to mention an injury and appendicitis. "It has been difficult for everyone, but it’s the world we live in, and we have to move forward and make the best out of it. Although it was not a normal season, I have the enormous luxury of continuing to play golf at the highest level and have work.”
Alex hopes to follow the worldly, competitive example set by his big sister. “I love it and I'd like to try; it will be a good dream. I know it's a harsh sport and it's not easy to get to playing as a professional. I will keep working hard and I'll see where that gets me,” said Alex.
In the meantime, Albane, Alex and their parents will be sharing yet another dream. “The greater goal would be to have golf events all around the world to help any foundations that can assist people with autism,” said Alex.