Mia and Salomon interview Steven Bowditch. Photo by Patti Putnicki

Mia and Salomon interview Steven Bowditch. Photo by Patti Putnicki


By Patti Putnicki

At the AT&T Byron Nelson press kickoff on March 17th, 2016, Salomon Navarette and Mia Williams boldly approached reigning tournament champ, Steven Bowditch, for an exclusive, two-on-one interview. They were poised, prepared, and ready with engaging questions. They furiously scribbled their notes, careful not to miss a word or nuance.

The impressive thing is, both of these young journalists are in the 5th grade. And, no question, a healthy measure of their collective poise comes from the education they’ve received at the Dallas-based Momentous Institute, the beneficiary of the legendary AT&T Byron Nelson Golf Tournament.

If you’re not familiar, the Momentous Institute helps children and their families develop, maintain or repair social-emotional health so they can achieve their full potential.

It’s a magical place that serves 6,000 kids and family members every year—families who couldn’t get this kind of help any other way. Although 86 percent of the students here qualify for a subsidized or free school lunch program, it’s the future that they create for themselves by being here that is the real statistic to quote.  A full 99 percent of Momentous students graduate from high school on time; 87 percent of its alumni go on to college.  If you go here, you get the tools you need to go on and do great things.

For Salomon Navarette and Mia Williams, the first rung on that ladder is earning the opportunity to be junior reporters at this year’s AT&T Byron Nelson. They won the privilege through an essay contest, through which they had to explain why they’d be great “inside the ropes” reporters.

Although each of these budding journalists has a different approach and unique strategies for getting the best story, Salomon and Mia will, no doubt, add new perspective and energy to this year’s Byron Nelson tournament coverage. Both were kind enough to give Purpose2Play one-on-one interviews, so what’s sure to become their new crop of fans could learn a little about them, and their approaches to writing.

Salomon Navarette: Focused on Technique, Club Selection and Shot Strategy

Salomon strikes his best journalist pose. Photo by Patti Putnicki

Salomon strikes his best journalist pose. Photo by Patti Putnicki

Salomon Navarette, age 10, told the story of why he should be selected as junior reporter very clearly: it’s because he’s a darn good golfer himself. Although he just took up the game two years ago after playing with his grandfather, Salomon is already the anchor of the Momentous Team, which crushed the competition at a 2015 First Tee event. In fact, Salomon was named Outstanding Player of the Year for his performance.

“I’m a good reporter because I understand golf—it’s my favorite sport—so, I can ask good questions,” Salomon said. “I can type fast, am very approachable and easy to talk to.”

Salomon is looking forward to asking the pros technical questions, including finding out what their favorite clubs are and uncovering their best strategies for a not-in-the-fairway shot. For the record, Salomon’s favorite club is his 48-degree pitching wedge, because he can use it to hit high or low shots, and do a pretty good job of making them all go straight.

“I think the most important part of covering the Byron Nelson is asking good questions that make the golfers think,” Salomon said.

As a golfer himself, and a student of the Momentous Institute, he also knows a little about how important it is to keep centered, even if the day goes wrong. All of that starts with the brain.

“I can ask a lot of good questions to the pros who are leading, but if I’m interviewing someone who’s not doing so well, I won’t ask about that bad day. I’ll ask, ‘What are you going to do to try harder tomorrow?’ That’s how I’ll make them feel comfortable,” he said.

And no doubt, he will.

Mia Williams: Soulful Storyteller Who Digs Deep Into the Heart of the Tournament

Mia Williams doesn’t claim to be an expert on golf, but she’s a reader, a writer and an 11-year-old with ambitions to be either a journalist or therapist, two professions that aren’t quite as dissimilar as they seem.

Mia is ready to get to work at this year's Byron Nelson. Photo by Patti Putnicki

Mia is ready to get to work at this year’s Byron Nelson. Photo by Patti Putnicki

“I express my feelings through writing, and I love to read, too,” Mia said. “As a junior reporter, I think it’s important to take notes about what I see during the day, so I can make the people who read what I write feel like they were at the Byron Nelson, too.”

Mia is more of a Renaissance reporter who wants to share the full experience with her readers, not just the nuances of the golf game itself.

“For example, we had our Kickoff Lunch today. I would ask who made the lunch, and how hard it was to make that much food for all of those people,” she said. “I think it’s important to talk to golfers, but also to describe what I see and talk to different people about what they do.”

Mia intends to speak to the golfers who are on the top of the leaderboard, as well as those who didn’t have such a good day. Because, everyone has a story.

“I think it’s important to make everyone feel comfortable by giving them positive thoughts. I’m going to think really hard about what strategies I’m using to approach the players and other people; to find interesting things about them—the things they like to talk about,” she said.

According to Mia, seeing an article of hers published would be “amazing” and “a dream come true to know other people are reading what I wrote.” Until that day, she wants everyone to know a few things about her, as a writer.

“I want everyone to know how hard I work to put my thoughts into words, that I put a lot of thought into my writing and creating my interview strategy,” she said. “And, I have a really good vocabulary. I think that’s important, too.”

In her short time in the profession, she’s already achieved a journalistic coup.

“After I introduced myself to Mrs. Nelson, she said I could interview her if I wanted,” Mia said. “I think it would be interesting to find out what it was like to be married to Mr. Nelson, and I have other questions. She’s a very nice lady.”

It looks like the AT&T Byron Nelson press tent is in some very capable hands.