Empowering Youth Through Golf

Golf is a metaphor for life – full of unexpected challenges, and how we choose to respond defines who we are. As the kids and teens in our programs know, success is not defined by how well we play the game.  It’s not about the score at the end of a round, or whether they won the tournament. It’s about the journey. What we learn along the way. And what we do with that learning makes all the difference. What makes First Tee different from other youth development organizations is how we do our work: through golf. By seamlessly integrating the game of golf with a life skills curriculum, we create active learning experiences that build inner strength, self-confidence, and resilience that kids can carry to everything they do While participating in First Tee, 82% of the youth in our programs felt more confident with their social skills and 73% reported feeling more confident in their academic ability. “I am grateful for the First Tee program and the impact it has had on my life. I have learned that golf is much more than a game, much more than just swinging a club, and carries with it life lessons that I will draw from for the rest of my life. The program has provided me with opportunities to play matches and tournaments that not only improved my game but provided lasting friendships with the golf families and coaches over the years. The program has provided me with a safe place to be a lifetime student of the game. There will always be something to learn, something to change, something to improve, (whether it’s a part of my golf game or a non-golf, real life situation) and First Tee ties them all together in a pretty bow, and helps me understand the connection.” – Emily Knox, First Tee — Tri Valley Experiences are our greatest teacher. We believe in developing the ones that are just as fun as they are meaningful, where kids feel excited to grow, safe to fail, and better equipped for whatever comes their way next. Our trained coaches create safe, supportive and empowering environments to help our participants prepare for life ahead, including friendships, school, college and even their careers. Whether a child’s goal is to be a lawyer, a teacher, an astrophysicist, a musician, or a professional golfer, kids become a better version of themselves when they have the space to be who they are, surrounded by passionate people who guide them to see what they are capable of. If anyone you know thinks that golf isn’t for them, invite them to try it the First Tee way.

Quick 9 for Personal Growth through Golf

By: Andrew Olivo, Age 16, First Tee – Central Florida

1. How does golf relate to life? ​

Golf relates to life as it teaches many important qualities such as respect, responsibility, and judgment. These characteristics help me to make the right decisions in life and place me on a path for success.

2. How does golf challenge you to be a better person?

​Golf challenges me to be a better person by placing me in situations to embrace the life lessons that I learn. For example, on the course, I have to always be honest with myself, even when nobody’s watching.

3. What is your favorite part about playing golf? ​

My favorite part about playing golf is spending time on the golf course with my dad. He is usually very busy with work so it’s nice to have some bonding time with him on the course to talk and play.

4. What golf skill helps you the most off the course? ​

Perseverance helps me the most off the course as it pushes me to do my best despite challenges or difficulties I may face in achieving my goals.

5. How can golf make you a more well-rounded individual? ​

Golf makes me a more well-rounded individual by teaching me a variety of skills and characteristics that I use in my day to day life. For example, golf helps to build my self confidence and practice respect towards adults and peers in my life.

6. How are you inspired through golf?

​I am inspired through golf to continue to improve as I play competitively in tournaments and on my high school team. In addition, as a junior assistant coach, it has inspired me to give back to my community and teach younger golfers the game of golf and important life lessons.

7. How have you grown up over the past year?

​Over the past year, I have learned to take on more responsibilities and leadership roles. For example, I am dedicating more time to junior coaching classes in First Tee. In school, I have become more active in clubs and organizations that I am a member of.

8. What or who motivates you? ​

My parents motivate me to work hard and try my best in golf and school. They teach me to always be a good person and lead by example.

9. What is your personal growth goal? ​

My personal growth goal is to keep working hard in school to be accepted in a highly rated university. In addition to developing my academics, I also want to continue focusing on maintaining my health and fitness through physical activity.

Kelvin Williams – Lessons in Leadership

At First Tee, we guide kids to strengthen what’s inside and put it into action because strong character, inner strength and resilience is needed now more than ever. This month we are talking to leaders within our Network about their experiences and key lessons learned over the course of their careers.

Kelvin Williams, Senior Vice President, Business Operations at First Tee Headquarters

What is your current role at First Tee and what is the most rewarding part of your job?

Senior Vice President, Business Operations. Definitely helping others be successful. And knowing that what we do is making a difference in the lives of young people.

This month we’re celebrating Black History Month and lifting up voices of Black participants, coaches and leaders exploring what it means to be a leader. What does leadership mean to you?

It means being a good example, practicing what I preach, and doing what I say I am going to do.  It also means being consistent and maintaining a great attitude no matter what… Attitude reflects leadership.

Did you always know you wanted to be in a leadership role? Can you share a little bit about your journey and how you’ve developed into your current role?

Yes. It started with my parents. People really respected them because of their strong work ethic and the manner in which they carried themselves. They would often get asked to lead various activities at church, work or in the community, and I knew one day I wanted follow in their footsteps. As I began my career, I held on to those qualities and observed others in leadership roles.  I learned what to do and what not to do, and from there I developed my own leadership style, which helped me to advance up the ladder and into the role I currently serve in.

Who were some of the strong voices or mentors in your life that inspired you?

My Wife, Parents and Pastors.

Can you give an example of a challenge you have faced in your career and how have you worked to overcome it?

Absolutely.  17 years ago, as a new manager, I was struggling trying to find ways to motivate one of my team members, and it really drove me crazy because I could not get this guy to perform at a higher level . Later that year, I went to a manager/leadership seminar and it was very enlightening. My biggest take way from the seminar was the effective listening session, and I was inspired and determined to take what I learned back to my office and try it on the team member I was struggling to motivate. And it worked! By listening, I was able to get to know him and build a relationship, which fostered trust. And in return, he trusted me and shared his goals and dreams with me. And because of that I was finally able to help him be successful because I listened to him and learned how to get his engine going.

How does or can First Tee play a role in bringing more diversity to our game?

By continuing to provide all young people, regardless of race, gender or social economic background, the opportunity to participate. And being intentional about hiring and recruiting leadership that looks like the community we want to serve.

What advice do you have for young people entering the job market determined to make a career for themselves?

  1. Do what you say you’re going to do.
  2. Don’t let anyone out work you.
  3. Pay your dues.
  4. Have fun!

Monica Blake – Lessons in Leadership

At First Tee, we guide kids to strengthen what’s inside and put it into action because strong character, inner strength and resilience is needed now more than ever. This month we are talking to leaders within our Network about their experiences and key lessons learned over the course of their careers.

Monica Blake, First Tee – Central Arkansas

What is your current role at First Tee and what is the most rewarding part of your job?

My name is Monica Blake and I am the Executive Director of First Tee-Central Arkansas. The most rewarding part of my job is making a positive impact on the lives of the youth and families we serve in Central Arkansas. As the Executive Director I’m able to serve as the voice of our participants and advocate on their behalf. I am also a certified First Tee coach and I have been intentional about staying involved in the coaching process. I believe that in order to be a successful leader it’s important that I stay connected to our participants and our mission. As the Executive Director, it’s essential to be a good steward of our donors and sponsoring donations and it’s very rewarding to see those contributions directly impact the youth that we serve.

This month we’re celebrating Black History Month and lifting up voices of Black participants, coaches and leaders exploring what it means to be a leader. What does leadership mean to you?

I believe that leadership isn’t about a title or position that you hold, but that it’s about the difference you make in someone’s life. As the leader of First Tee- Central Arkansas it’s important that I’m putting everyone within our organization in a position to not only be  successful, but to facilitate an environment where each participant, coach, and volunteer aspire to be the change they seek in the lives of the youth that we serve.

Did you always know you wanted to be in a leadership role? Can you share a little bit about your journey and how you’ve developed into your current role?

My journey with First Tee began in an entry level role as a volunteer coach in 2012. It was in this role, I realized the value that each position within the organization holds, and how it’s sometimes the person who’s the initial point of contact, that can make the biggest impact on a participant. As I reflect on my growth in the organization, and how my career has progressed, I was extremely fortunate for the opportunity to serve as a volunteer. It was instrumental in laying a foundation of what it means to serve and how to incorporate service into my leadership style. I quickly moved into the role of a paid coach and from there I was promoted to Program Director, where I served for 6 years. Being the Program Director allowed me to connect with the curriculum we were teaching and our mission as an organization and how it impacts each participant. In 2019, I became the first female African-American Executive Director of First Tee-Central Arkansas. I know it was every role that I’ve served, which helped prepare me for this amazing opportunity within this organization and has put me in the greatest position to be successful .

Who were some of the strong voices or mentors in your life that inspired you?

Harold Banks has been a mentor to not only myself, but to countless golfers throughout the Central Arkansas area. Harold was always willing to share his knowledge, skills and expertise with everyone in the golf community. He always had a positive attitude and took a personal interest in mentoring the next generation. Harold was instrumental in advancing black golfers in Little Rock and often his advice extended far beyond the golf course. He was respected by golfers throughout Central Arkansas and left a lasting impact on golfers for generations to come. The impact Harold has made on our community is something that truly inspires and motivates me to become a mentor and leader in the community.

Can you give an example of a challenge you have faced in your career and how have you worked to overcome it?

Having to lead during a pandemic was certainly a challenge and continues to be each day. One important lesson I’ve learned is how to constantly adapt to ever changing  circumstances and continue to modify and adjust as necessary. Flexibility and the power of teamwork are key pillars I have to lean on. Together, as an organization, we were able to navigate through our new circumstances and now we’re in a position to advance our organization even further. We were forced to evaluate our operations through a different lens, and I feel programming has benefited as a result.

How does or can First Tee play a role in bringing more diversity to our game? 

First Tee has the opportunity to play a fundamental role in increasing diversity in golf, especially in Central Arkansas.  The mission of our organization has always been to introduce our programming to underserved communities and now we have the opportunity to lead the charge in bringing diversity and inclusion into the game of golf. This is done by elevating black voices within the community and developing a plan to identify the disconnections and expanding opportunities for minorities. As an organization it is our responsibility to ensure that all participants are having an equitable experience.

What advice do you have for young people entering the job market determined to make a career for themselves?

My advice for young people entering the job market would be to find something that you are passionate about and where you can make a difference. Golf has always played a significant role in my life and as I’ve grown older so has the desire to help people in my community. I’m very fortunate to now serve in a role where I get to blend these two together. It is important to make an impact on the world around you and to help those who are in need.

Coach Dustin Marsh – Lessons in Leadership

At First Tee, we guide kids to strengthen what’s inside and put it into action because strong character, inner strength and resilience is needed now more than ever. This month we are talking to leaders within our Network about their experiences and key lessons learned over the course of their careers.

Coach Dustin Marsh, First Tee – Central Carolina

What is your current role at First Tee, how long have you been in that role and what is the most rewarding part of your job?

Currently, I am a recognized First Tee Coach. I have been coaching with The First Tee since 2009.

This month we’re celebrating Black History Month and lifting up voices of Black participants, coaches and leaders exploring what it means to be a leader. As a coach, you’re both a mentor and leader to the participants in the program. What does that mean to you?

It means a great deal to me! Many people get to middle age and find themselves in a job or career that they did not foresee. They get caught up in making a living. They may or may not like what they do. I like what I do but, before I started with The First Tee I was not participating in my community as I thought I needed to. I was searching for something to fill a void in my being. When I was young, I was an education major but, life happened and I took an opportunity to work in computer technology. Now that I am coaching with The First Tee, I feel like I’m exercising the same passion I had when I was on a path to be an educator.

How important is it for participants to see diverse leaders like yourself and others coaching at the chapter?

It’s extremely important that our participants experience the program from a diverse range of leaders and with diverse peers. I think specifically about some of the kids I have coached over the years who have gone on to college and professional careers, and I know having diverse coaches was instrumental in not only attracting them to the program, but also keeping them engaged for the long run.  At the end of the day, it’s about making kids feel welcome and comfortable, and when a kid can see themselves in me or another black or brown coach, that increases the likelihood they will want to come back.

Who were some of the strong voices or mentors in your life that inspired you?

Many of my coaches made strong impressions on me for various reasons. Some of my teachers inspired me as well. However, I think the strongest voices in my life were those that exemplified and instilled the importance of decency toward others.

What accomplishment are you most proud of in your life or career?

One thing I’m most proud of is my track record of community service, specifically through First Tee – Central Carolina.  I’ve been doing this for over 11 years.  It isn’t always convenient or easy in my schedule, but it has been worth it.  I’m proud that kids have called me a mentor even when I didn’t think I was, and that I’ve been able to help them figure out all how to deal with the hard things life has thrown at them.

Can you give an example of a challenge you have faced in your career and how have you worked to overcome it?

A challenge that I have faced in my career is leading teams of people and how to get the best results possible.  What I’ve learned is that you have to know what motivates them and what their strengths and weaknesses are.  This takes time and building relationships.  Once you know these details, you can put people where they are going to be the most effective and the whole team benefits.  I’ve done the same thing in the First Tee classes I coach.  I try to learn as quickly as I can why a kid is there and what they are looking to get out of the experience.  Once I know this, I can adapt my coaching to best match their needs.  Like we are trained in the First Tee Coach Program, match the activity to the child and not the child to the activity.

How does or can First Tee play a role in bringing more diversity to our game?

I think we must continue to find ways to make golf inviting to a diverse group of people. There isn’t one way to bring more diversity to golf. We have to try every approach we can come up with. It’s not something that can be accomplished overnight. Golf used to be a sport that was available to only those with financial means and making it more inclusive is going to take time and perseverance. There is a lot of untapped talent that golf has yet to tap into. It ultimately comes down to building relationships in your community that are genuine and time tested.  The opportunities to be more diverse can be hard to initially see, but if your focus is on building relationships, the opportunities to engage with black and brown communities will become more apparent.  When it comes to this type of work, don’t worry about being the first one there, focus on being the last one standing.

What leadership advice or concept do you think is most important for your participants to know?

Focus on the process, not the outcome.

Angela “Coach Angel” Whorton, First Tee — Greater Akron

Coach Angel has been an educator for 15 years. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Master of Arts in Elementary Education from Hampton University, where she attended on a full NCAA Division I scholarship helping lead her team in March Madness. After graduation, Coach Angel traveled extensively and was invited to speak on diversity and educational practices. She began her teaching career in Turkey, teaching English as a Second Language before going back home, to Akron, Ohio where she is currently an educator at the Lebron James IPromise school. Coach Angel was introduced to First Tee 8 years ago when her son, John Ramon, joined the program. She joined in not long after and has been coaching at First Tee — Greater Akron for 7 years.  “I feel it is important to stay involved in the First Tee to offer the kids in my urban community the opportunity to play a sport that they may have not felt was in their realm of abilities.  When we begin working with these athletes we open a whole new world for them while developing their character through the Core Values to instill a solid foundation for success.  I also feel it is essential to have representation in the world of golf and being able to interact and develop friendships and perspectives with people in the golf community that may have otherwise never built a relationship with someone in the Black community such as myself.” Coach Angel is just one of the many inspirational coaches across our network and we invite you to learn more about her journey and thoughts on leadership in the video below.

First Tee Alumni Compete on the APGA Tour

We believe that golf provides a powerful vehicle to help kids build inner strength and life enhancing skills they can take to everything they do. Joseph Dent, Marcellus Dillard and Joey Stills are First Tee alumni using these life lessons as they compete on the APGA Tour, a launching pad for African Americans and minority golfers to compete and make their way to the PGA TOUR. The three alumni shared their experiences through First Tee and how it’s empowered them to develop their character as they pursue their goals.

2021 Golf Mania game cards available to benefit our chapter

PURCHASE YOUR GAMECARD HERE First Tee-Howard County is once again selling Charity Mania golf sweepstakes tickets for 2021 — a great opportunity to sharpen your focus on the four golf majors, support our area’s premier youth development organization, and have the chance to win cash prizes! The Masters: April 5-11, 2021 PGA Championship: May 20-23, 2021
U.S. Open: June 17-20, 2021 British Open: July 15-18, 2021
This is “Fantasy Golf” without the work and commitment, for a great cause! Tickets can be purchased online, or by calling us at 410-730-1114 or emailing [email protected]. We had about 15 winners last year from $25 to $200.  Still not sure how it works? This quick video explains it!
These tickets also come with absolutely free music downloads for up and coming artists.
So jump on in! And yes, if you delay until after the PGA Championship cutoff (days before the tournament) your $20 ticket will be good for the next majors, so greatest value goes to the early purchasers!

Q&A with Daniel Schrider, our newest board member

Our Board of Directors is comprised of a group of committed volunteers from the community who lead our fundraising efforts. We’re pleased to welcome Dan Schrider, President and CEO of Sandy Spring Bank, to our board. A resident of western Howard County, Dan has been married to his wife Dedi for 33 years, and is a proud father of three and grandfather to two, soon to be three, grandchildren. For the past 31 years, he has worked for Sandy Spring Bank, serving as CEO for the past 12 years. In his free time, Dan enjoys golfing, hunting, playing basketball and traveling. We caught up with Dan recently to learn more about what brought him to become involved with First Tee.
Dan Schrider
Q: Thinking back to your youth, were there any programs or mentors that helped shape you as a leader?
A: When I was 14, I began working at a local butcher shop where I remained for 7 years. The other employees happened to be men who were much older and had served in WWII. Listening to their stories of commitment and sacrifice coupled with the way in which they served the many weekly customers of the shop demonstrated, by example, how to treat people with humility. Those examples stuck with me.
Q: In your role leading Sandy Spring Bank, what one or two characteristics do you notice consistently in your most successful entry-level employees? 
A: There are many characteristics that I would look for, but I really notice when a new employee brings the combination of a strong work ethic and willingness to be a part of a team player. Those tend to be the employees who have the great potential to advance in their career, whether that is in banking or in other areas where they are lead to pursue.
Q: What aspects of First Tee’s mission do you believe make it stand out among the many youth development programs in our region? I really believe that the focus on the 9 core values and life skills set the First Tee apart from many other programs targeting young people and the results speak for themselves.  For many years and throughout many chapters, the lives of young people have been impacted positively while enjoying the fun offered through the game of golf.  Additionally, the care offered by the First Tee’s coaches can make a lasting impact in a young person. Thank you, Dan, for sharing your experience and commitment with us!

Media Release: USGA Grant Awarded to First Tee of Howard County

USGA Awards Grant to First Tee of Howard County
for Local Youth Development Programs

USGA grant is part of a nationwide initiative to provide greater access to golf for youth

Columbia, MD (September 15, 2020) – The United States Golf Association (USGA) has awarded a $2,500 grant to First Tee of Howard County to further their efforts of introducing young people to game of golf and experiences that empower them to build their strength of character. The grant is one of 51 being awarded nationwide to chapters located in or around USGA Championships and Allied Golf Associations as part of the organization’s strategy to leave a positive impact on its local host communities.

Since 1997, the USGA has invested more than $26 million in grants to First Tee to provide greater access to golf for juniors and cultivate a life-long passion for the game. The commitment to expanding participation is part of the USGA’s mission to champion and advance the game.

“Year after year we are seeing the positive impact that First Tee and other junior programs are having in breaking down barriers and connecting communities through sports,” said Mike Davis, CEO of the USGA. “It is vital for golf’s long-term health that we continue to create pathways for all juniors to participate.”

First Tee brings kids and teens to the game of golf and leverages it as a catalyst for personal growth through experiences that build inner strength, self-confidence, and resilience. With USGA’s support, First Tee of Howard County reaches more than 500 young people annually at four program locations, with support from more than 25 volunteer coaches, plus a volunteer board of directors. First Tee of Howard County impacts young people through character education and life skills programs at in-school and after-school programs.

Don Van Deusen, executive director of First Tee of Howard County, expressed his appreciation, “With the unfortunate combination of increased expenses and less revenue this year due to COVID-19, the USGA grant makes it possible for us to offer our 2020 programs with all of the necessary safety measures in place, without having to increase enrollment fees for our participants. Perseverance is one of our core values that we talk about with our junior golfers, and we have learned this year more than ever the importance of it both on and off the golf course. We’re grateful for USGA’s investment in our youth at this critical time.”

The funding is part of the USGA’s annual $70 million investment back into the game fueled by revenues generated by the U.S. Open.

For more information about the First Tee of Howard County, visit www.firstteehowardcounty.org. Visit firsttee.org to see the full list of USGA grant recipients.

About the USGA
The USGA is a nonprofit organization that celebrates, serves and advances the game of golf. Founded in 1894, we conduct many of golf’s premier professional and amateur championships, including the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open. With The R&A, we govern the sport via a global set of playing, equipment, handicapping and amateur status rules. The USGA campus in Liberty Corner, New Jersey, is home to the Association’s Research and Test Center, where science and innovation are fueling a healthy and sustainable game for the future. The campus is also home to the USGA Golf Museum, where we honor the game by curating the world’s most comprehensive archive of golf artifacts. To learn more, visit usga.org.

At Home Resources & Activities

Welcome to First Tee of Howard County’s Home Resource & Activities hub, which we will be updating regularly! Check back often for ideas to keep your junior golfers engaged while we are all at home. Links to Learning PGA Tour First Tee is partnering with PGA TOUR to launch Links to Learning, an offering of PGA TOUR family-friendly educational content. In addition, below are links to First Tee’s character-building lessons and into a one-stop shop for parents, teachers and students. From Art and Math to Science and Fitness, with a little creativity, golf can be applied to just about any subject.  

FIRST TEE RESOURCES

HEALTHY HABITS ACTIVITIES CORE VALUES WORKSHEETS (coming soon!)

FUN & CREATIVE GOLF-THEMED ACTIVITIES

ART PROJECT IDEAS, GOLF COLORING PAGES & MORE JOURNAL WRITING GOLF WORD SEARCH PGA TOUR TRIVIA

GET GOLF COURSE READY ACTIVITIES

5 MINUTE GOLF WARMUP

FUN LINK – HOW TO PACK YOUR GOLF BAG

FREQUENTLY USED GOLF TERMS AND QUIZ

NON-GOLF RESOURCES

PBS LEARNING MEDIA

ZOOM SAFETY TIPS

NH FOOD ACCESS MAP

NH DEPT. OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES DURING COVID-19

PARENTS MEETING THE CHALLENGE (PMC)

Parents Meeting the Challenge (PMC) is an 8 session educational program that provides parents and primary caregivers the opportunity to learn, share and connect with others who face similar challenges in caring for children/adolescents with emotional and behavioral disorders.