If you stick around in the sports writing world long enough, you’ll likely interview some superstars along the way. Just ask any reporter for their favorite interviews and they’ll tell an amazing story.
And Bella Dovhey, 13, of Orlando, Fla., Can do the same, with Arnold Palmer, Barbara Nicklaus, Sergio Garcia and Jerry Rice on her interview resume.
Sprinkle on impromptu meetings with Jack Nicklaus, former Homeland Security Secretary and former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, and actor Alfonso Ribeiro (“Carlton” from Fresh Prince of Bel Air – yes, this Carlton), and it’s a who’s who list that could take anyone years to complete.
And Bella was first published five years ago when she was 8!
An accomplished golfer who will represent Team Florida on ESPN2, ESPNews and ESPN + this weekend at the 2021 PGA Jr. National Car Rental League Championship at Grayhawk Golf Club, Dovhey landed the sports writing jackpot when ‘he was asked to write for Florida Golf Center magazine. Editor Terrie Purdum would ask Bella to interview golfers who would come to their golf club.
“She was given free rein in her interviews,” said Bella’s father Mike Dulhvey, a helicopter critical care nurse on the pandemic frontline for Advent Health. “Terri would shake things up. You could see Bella approach them and ask questions.
“Bella Dovhey is an amazing human being, she is a [golf] playful, and her charming personality and manner stole my heart and Arnold’s too, ”Purdum explained. “She has written ‘Young Gun’ stories for Florida Golf Central and attended many events on behalf of the magazine. I always told her, “Play golf for fun, you’ll be in front of the camera someday. So don’t stress. Just be Bella.”
Along the way, she received golf and life advice from sports legends.
“They have become very good mentors,” said Bella, who won the junior junior “Grand Slam” tour at the age of 8 – the US European Children’s Golf Championship in Scotland, the AAU National Golf Championship in Orlando, IMG World Golf Championship in San Diego, and US World Kids Golf Championship in Pinehurst, North Carolina.
Two of these events, she won three times each, including one by 18 strokes!
“They helped me out and that gives me confidence,” added Bella. Confident enough that she would be on the local high school golf team as a sixth grader.
Just months before her death in 2016, Bella met Palmer at her legendary Bay Hill Golf Club. Bella asked Palmer questions and Ridge helped her.
Dovhey told Palmer a story about his meeting with Barbara and Jack Nicklaus. By then, Bella had developed a bond with Barbara that would lead them to complete the last holes of the PNC Father-Fils Challenge together.
Palmer joked with her, “Jack Nicklaus? Who is this guy? You know him?”
Bella asked Palmer who had taught her to play golf at such an incredible level. Palmer was quick to point the finger at 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 for a very long time. He told me he had learned a lot from his trainer.
At the end of the conversation, Palmer presented Bella with a large ball marker which was awarded to her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which she used in tournaments.
It wouldn’t be long before Bella wrote a handwritten story and got it published. as if in Florida Golf Center. Soon after, she met Palmer again and showed him the article.
“He loved his story,” Mike said. “These were really precious moments for an 8 year old girl. It was really special.
Eventually, Bella would end her writing career.
“We realized we couldn’t keep juggling this,” said Bella’s mother, Pearl Dolhvey, an emergency nurse for Advent Health. Pearl and Mike balanced a life that included a night shift and a day shift.
Yet Bella still has a treasure trove of memories from her career as a top-notch young scribe and junior golfer.
“I wasn’t really expecting it,” said Bella, who explained her reaction when it was first announced to her that she would meet Arnold Palmer. “I thought they were kidding.”