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Group of disc golfers prove they’re a tight-knit community despite being socially distant

Posted at 12:55 PM, Feb 05, 2021

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Theresa Garcia didn’t know what she was getting herself into. She was standing in a parking lot, waiting, hoping she would get what she came for.

“My heart was definitely racing, blood pounding. It was definitely scary,” said Theresa.

But how did she end up here? To fully understand, you must meet Theresa and her boyfriend, Sheldon.

Sheldon’s been playing disc golf for years. He’s competed in competitions across the nation. Last year, he introduced Theresa to the sport and she fell in love with the game.

It was the afternoon before a big tournament for Sheldon, and the pair was practicing at the course close to their home.

After they finished playing, the couple stored Sheldon’s box of discs in his truck.

“There are some very momentous ones from previous tournaments that he had played and he had some signed discs — one from his favorite pro, David Feldberg,” explained Theresa of what was inside the box.

Now, the box is the most important thing, but remember the name David Feldberg. It’ll come in handy later.

Now, fast forward to the next morning when Theresa and Sheldon got quite the shock.

“We see that the trunk bed is wide open, and we're like, ‘Oh that's not a good sign,’” said Theresa.

The discs were gone, dozens of them, many valuable in price, but all precious memories.

“They meant a lot,” said Sheldon. “I was like, ‘I am going to miss those because they’re from a lot of tournaments that I did like in high school and junior high.”

But, Sheldon had no time to worry. He had to get to his tournament, so Theresa jumped into action.

“I immediately started thinking to myself, what we could do,” she said.

Right after the discs were stolen, Theresa posted on Facebook, asking the disc golf community for help. Within moments, she was floored to see dozens of messages flooding in from people trying to help her find the discs.

“It was kind of like: ‘You hurt our team, we're going to come after you all as one kind of community.’ It was really incredible,” she said.

Yet, she wasn’t surprised at this kindness.

“We just are part of a community that really cares about each other,” she said. “Everyone just wants to be there and be a supportive person to bring you up, not only in the sport, but also personally.”

She said even being in the sport a short time, she’s never felt more welcomed by a community. So, Theresa put her new passion into writing for UDisc, a publication dedicated to helping disc golfers find more than 11,000 courses around the world, keep track of their games and keep up with this growing community.

With her team at her back, it wasn’t long before Theresa made a breakthrough on her search.

“Lo and behold, right there, Facebook Marketplace, was 40 discs. We knew right away we had to act fast,” she said.

She quickly messaged the thief, called the police, and set up the sting operation.

After waiting in a parking lot with the police nearby, she saw him walking up with Sheldon’s prized disc collection.

“I was nervous,” recounted Theresa. “It was definitely really scary, and we got a little bit startled that he was going to remember where we lived.”

Thankfully, she didn’t have to make small talk for long. The police arrived and made the arrest.

“It was obviously so much joy and so much happiness,” Theresa said. “But as we got home, we were sitting there, like treasuring the box. We had this back, and we're looking at them, and we started seeing all of the numbers and names were sharpied off.”

When the thief tried to cover his tracks, he destroyed an autographed disc signed by Sheldon’s favorite — you remember that name — David Feldberg.

“It was just kind of this like a little bit of a cloud over the whole thing,” she said.

But, the disc golf community came to the rescue again. Someone reached out to David Feldberg, and he signed another disc for Sheldon right away. He even found the special edition disc, one of only around 100 ever made. Sheldon opened it Christmas morning.

“I was very surprised because I did not think that you'd be able to find another one,” he said.

But, this sport is one of undying support. It’s a small but mighty community that is only growing.

“I really like how inclusive everyone is,” said Sheldon.

“Disc golf itself has more than doubled in this last year alone just because it's such a safe socially distant outdoors thing to do,” said Theresa. “It really helped a lot of people, myself included, stay sane during this crazy unpredictable time.”

And in a time where unprecedented is the norm, it strangely took a true crime story about disc golf to show the world the incredible team behind this individual sport.