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Spartan Sagas

  • Author:
    Robert Bao
  • Published:
    Winter 2012

Name: Nancy Haley

Affiliation: Alumna, 1972

Current Residence: Golden, Colorado

For Nancy Haley, success is par for the course.

“I discovered golf because my husband is a golfer.” Working as an interior designer, Nancy Haley had no idea this discovery would lead her to inspiration and success. “For the 10 years that I was doing interior design, I was working on my golf game. But also at the same time, I realized how ugly golf clothes were. And I kept saying, ‘Why can’t somebody make golf clothes that are attractive?’ I mean there are attractive sports clothes for all other sports. Why ugly golf clothes?”

Haley worked on designs in her studio, creating attractive, functional sportswear. She and her husband got a loan and started a sportswear company called Sport-Haley, which she successfully ran until she retired. She says seizing an opportunity is the key.

“I’m just shocked at how unattractive some of these clothes were,” she says. “They had little embroidered golf skirts with golf carts on them. And that’s not for everybody. I mean women want to be attractive. So I realized the need.”

Shortly after she left Sport-Haley she met Clint Eastwood at a golf outing and they got talking about what she was going to do next. That meeting lead to the creation of Tehama Sportswear. Partnered with Eastwood, the company’s success was remarkable. Haley says going to Michigan State gave her the confidence she needed to realize when an opportunity is flying past, a critical thing.

“Because oft en times they do fly by and you have to grab them as they go by and not be afraid to take the chance.”

She says luck plays a role in success, but that you need a lot more than luck to see your dreams come true.

“I think there is a karma. And the fact that I ended up being Clint Eastwood’s business partner is lucky. But you have to put yourself out there. I mean it’s not going to come to you if you are hiding under a rock. So if you put yourself out there, these opportunities are more and more and more and then something like that happens. And who would ever guess that Clint Eastwood would have asked me if I would go into business with him?”

Nancy Haley is again retired, but this is not a woman at rest. She’s gotten back into painting, an early passion, and is thinking about finding an outlet to sell her work. Perhaps one more opportunity grasped. One more challenge.

“I am so grateful that I’ve learned all of the things that I have learned through these past 23 years that will help me be successful in my next career and maybe my next one. Who knows?”

Challenge drives alumna Nancy Haley. “I’m a real challenge taker. I think that’s what helps get me up in the morning.”

After years working in interior design, Haley set her sights on another passion, golf. She started out designing golf wear for women, then added a men’s line. A chance meeting with Clint Eastwood turned into what she called the opportunity of a lifetime. They began a business relationship that turned into a heady marriage of opportunity and success with almost $50 million in sales.

“You only get one go-around in life,” she says. “And if you don’t do what you love then you’ve missed another opportunity.”