Since funding Howard University‘s first NCAA Division I golf program in 2019, Stephen Curry has been in awe of the experience. That was especially so when he attended the first golf classic recently, which he shared more about in the article by Topher Gauk-Roger at People below!
Stephen Curry couldn’t be more thrilled to see the achievements of Howard University’s golf team two years into his funding of the HBCU’s first NCAA Division I golf program.
Over the weekend, the NBA star made his way to Pebble Beach, California for the Bison at the Beach Inaugural Golf Classic, a first-of-its-kind event in one of the world’s most popular golfing destinations.
This event was held to assist the program in raising endowed funds and Curry, 33, exclusively spoke with PEOPLE about what it was like seeing how far they have come since first announcing his support in 2019.
“It’s a special kind of milestone in this journey,” he says. “An opportunity to start something really, really impactful and an amazing experience for these student athletes where you can be at a very iconic place in the game of golf and bring some amazing individuals and groups that want to support the program to elevate the kids’ experiences.”
Howard’s team completed their debut season in Division I during the 2020-2021 academic year, and this new event was attended by Howard University alumni, members of the Board of Trustees, corporate sponsors and friends of the University. As Curry explains, it was “a really exciting opportunity to take that next step in supporting the program and moving into the future.”
Added Howard University president Wayne A. I. Frederick in a statement, “Stephen Curry’s generosity helped bring the Division I men’s and women’s Howard golf teams to life. But to ensure the long-term sustainability of our golf program, we need the support of many more individuals and organizations.”
The inaugural season was a success, ending with Howard University rising senior Gregory Odom Jr. winning the individual title at the Professional Golf Association (PGA) Works Collegiate Championship. And for Curry, it has been “surreal” watching them reach such accomplishments in a short amount of time.
“I had no idea what it was going to take to actually make this a reality,” he admits. “I love golf and I love having the ability to use my platform to create opportunity. With COVID, they were only together for a very short time for this first inaugural season, but even looking at the schedule they put together for next next season, it’s great.”
Howard is one of 25 HBCU golf programs and for the Akron, Ohio, native, it’s been an important mission to create new opportunities for young Black athletes around the country.
“I’ve been blessed to play basketball at the highest level, but also have a passion for golf, which has opened up so much in terms of building a network of like-minded people that aspire to create change,” he explains. “Howard is a north star in terms of where these young, talented student athletes can end up, and you can create golf as a conduit for success in life.”
For golf program Head Coach Samuel G.Puryear Jr., having one of professional basketball’s most iconic names involved from the very start has been instrumental in getting them this far.
“In order to be successful, you have to have some gas in the engine, and I think what this has done is basically fill up the tank and allow us to drive and do some of the things that we really need to do in order to make that difference,” he tells PEOPLE. “What Stephen has done with his time, his energy, his resources helped fuel the engine to make the car run.”
Curry and his wife of almost 10 years Ayesha, 32, share son Canon W. Jack, 2, plus daughters Ryan Carson, 5, and Riley, 8. The athlete makes it a priority to pay his success forward to give “them a vision of what they can be themselves.”
“They ask questions about where I’m at and what I’m doing and it’s cool to tell them I’m trying to raise money for a very special program that is going to change lives,” he says. “Hopefully that means something to them now and can plant the seed of how, [and] when it’s their time, they can carry the torch and make an impact.”
Whether or not his children follow in his footsteps on the court, Curry says he “ain’t putting the pressure on them” and that the couple are letting them find their passions on their own.