February 7, 2024 marks National Girls and Women in Sports Day (NGWSD), a movement celebrated annually by the Women’s Sports Foundation to honor the achievements of girls and women in sports by acknowledging the power sports have to unlock limitless potential. Not only do sports teach girls and women respect for others, responsibility, commitment, and other important fundamentals, sports also keeps the body active — a huge component of overall health.

This year, Dr. Laura Ottaviani D.O., a board certified physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist at Coastal Orthopedics, and her husband Dr. Steven Schafer M.D., board certified orthopedic surgeon who specializes in knee and shoulder surgery as well as sports injuries at Coastal Orthopedics, had the pleasure of hosting Mary Lui, a female golfer from China who is competing in the LPGA this year, in their home.

While it’s fairly common for families to host athletes, the opportunity primarily comes from word of mouth so that players stay with family or close friends. Dr. Schafer had a high school friend that served as a caddy to Mary during a match in Michigan this past year, and when the friend found out Mary had made the cut to compete with the LPGA and the first tournament stop was in Bradenton, he contacted Dr. Schafer to see if he and his wife would be interested in hosting Mary and her mother.

Being that it’s a pivotal moment in an athlete’s career, it’s important they have privacy, as well as a relaxed environment when they are staying with strangers, which the doctors offered with open arms. With Dr. Schafer and Dr. Ottaviani working during the day, Mary and her mother spent most of their time at the golf course, but would connect with both doctors later in the day.

“During the time they spent with us, Mary’s mother took a trip to Tampa to find an Asian supermarket and came back with food I had never seen before,” said Dr. Ottaviani. “We had a lot of fun making Chinese dumplings, noodles and stir fry. In turn, I made them my homemade chicken broth and pasta dishes, along with herbed salmon and rib eyes on the grill. We had a lot of fun exchanging recipes and telling stories about our families at the dinner table. It was such a short time, but when they left, they felt like family.”

The husband-and-wife doctor duo reflects fondly on the short two weeks they spent with the pair, but they already have plans to travel to Michigan in June if Mary plays in an LPGA tournament at that time, and they look forward to continuing to follow along with her progress.

Mary’s one request for their visit in June? To bring along the beloved family dog, Oakley.