Introducing Team Infinite’s Maria Oliva
Introducing Infinite Discs team member, Maria Oliva!
Where did you grow up?
I was born in Guatemala, and lived there for about five years. Then I moved to Dallas, Texas with my parents.
I started playing disc golf when I was 14 and then went pro shortly after that. And that’s what I’ve been doing ever since. Disc golf has been a big part of my life.
How did you discover disc golf?
My dad discovered it for us. He wanted the family to have something to do on the weekends that was outside and cheap. They had disc golf discs at a sporting goods store, so that’s where he got them. My first disc was a Champion Monarch. My dad got a Groove and the Monarch was similar.
My dad played and he would take me out on the course, but at first I was not stoked to be there. Texas was hot in the summer and I didn’t like the heat, or being outdoors, or the bugs and critters. Basically everything about it was a ‘no’ for me. I felt that way for a long time, but then in High School the bug just bit me and I’ve never stopped playing.
One of the things I liked about disc golf is that I didn’t need anyone else to play. I could just be out there alone and no one would know I was there. Then I could just head home when I was done.
When did you turn pro?
I got my PDGA number when I was 14, then turned pro a couple years later. I did that because there wasn’t a lot of competition in the Dallas area. There weren’t any women playing other than in the FPO division, and I didn’t want to win a lower division by being the only player. Which I think is a good idea because it helps you learn faster. So, I turned pro pretty quickly because I had to, in order to play with others.
What has been the highlight of your professional disc golf career so far?
It seems pretty cliché, but I would have to say my first Disc Golf Pro Tour win this past November. New World Championship for me was very special. It was definitely something that I wanted to achieve this year, and I didn’t see it happening, but then it did! And I’m just very stoked and think it is the first of many so I’m just very excited to start playing again.
What was it like the first time you took cash as a pro?
The first time taking cash was a little weird. I remember there were quite a few women playing in that tournament and I wasn’t going to cash. But, someone marked their score wrong and that bumped me up into the cash. I remember thinking, whoa, I didn’t expect this to happen at all. This is great! But it also taught me a valuable lesion to make sure you get your score correct. I would be mad at myself if I ever did that.
Who did you look up to when you were first starting out?
There were a lot, but the main one was my best friend, Landon Knight. He has been a local pro in the Dallas area for as long as I can remember. He pretty much taught me everything I know. He is a really good swing coach and he can tell what needs to be fixed. He loves sports, which is something that goes hand in hand. I based a lot of my game off of him when I was learning. I think that helped me grow a lot into the player I am. I was constantly trying to be one of the boys. There is a gap there, but it made me a little more competitive. Which is nice because I’m definitely not competitive. That shocks some people to hear that. Everything I do, I like doing really well. But, I do it for me. I don’t feel like I want to be the best to beat people, but I want to be the best for me.
What are some of your goals for next year?
I like to take my disc golf events as they come up. I like to take things day by day. I think that winning an Elite Pro Tour event would be nice. It’s always a goal. Winning is great. It’s nice to see your hard work pay off. Even if it doesn’t happen, I’m very excited to be playing next season.
Last year was my first full tour and at the end I was a little tired. But, now looking back I know what to expect a little more as far as traveling and tournaments. I think next year will be a lot smoother for me. Luke (Samson) and I will be starting our season in January in Waco to get some early practice in for the Pro Tour. And after that we’ll hit a bunch of B-tiers and A-tiers until the Pro Tour starts. It’s fun to hit smaller courses and areas that we don’t hit on the tour.
What do you picture disc golf looking like in 5 years (Growth, competition, contracts, etc.)?
I think everything will keep growing at a steady pace, just because of the past few years and the growth we’ve seen continuously. I think a big thing that will change is there might be different tours and maybe different age divisions that cater to younger kids. I think most sports have little leagues and now that parents have a better opinion about disc golf, I think they will encourage them to try disc golf. I think that will help organizations like UPlay disc golf grow even more.
What Infinite molds do you throw?
One of the discs that replaced the Destroyer for me, which I never thought would happen, is the Emperor. I’ve thrown that more times this year than any other disc. And of course my Anubis, which is my tour series disc for the year. Recently I got some new discs from Infinite so I’m trying a bunch of discs, and I’ve been messing around with the Tomb and that’s a really fun putter to throw. It’s very different, but it’s very fun. It’s been fun to try other molds, too.
Do you have any shout-outs or people you would like to acknowledge?
The biggest shout out is to my sponsors, Thought Space and Infinite. I’m super stoked to be on their teams and beyond excited to be playing with their discs next year. To all my fans who are constantly supporting me on the road and off the road, I super-appreciate every one of you!