Did you know that The First Tee is a family affair for the Van Deusen family? Our executive director, Don Van Deusen, is also the proud father of our two Allied Golf coaches, Stephanie Stoutenborough and Brian Van Deusen. This month, we’re catching up with Stephanie, a native and current resident of Columbia, about coaching this very special team. When she’s not coaching, the mother of two works as the business manager at River Hill High School.
Q: How and when did you first get involved with The First Tee?
A: I first started with The First Tee about 10 years ago as a coach for the PLAYer level.
Q: When did your interest in golf begin? Coaching?
A: I have been coaching varsity soccer at Atholton High School for 15 years. I come from a family of coaches, between my dad, Don Van Deusen, and brother, Brian. Once the Allied Golf Program started in Howard County Public Schools (HCPSS) in 2009-2010, I knew I wanted to be a part of it.
Q: Tell me about The First Tee’s Allied team.
A: Allied Sports is a totally inclusive program for high school students that gives students with special needs an equal opportunity to participate in interscholastic sports along-side their non-disabled peers.
Q: What type of background prepared you to be a coach of the Allied team?
A: I worked in the Special Education department at River Hill for seven years before switching positions.
Q: What makes coaching this team rewarding?
A: The most rewarding thing about coaching Allied Golf is seeing the athletes smiles and their excitement when they hit a good shot or sink a putt.
Q: What are some of the biggest surprises you’ve encountered from coaching? Biggest lessons you’ve learned?
A: The best thing about Allied Golf is that we are giving athletes with various disabilities a chance to learn a sport they may never have thought they could compete in, and with the right coaching and resources, it is amazing to see what they can accomplish.
Q: How have you seen The First Tee benefit Allied participants?
A: The First Tee paired with HCPSS in 2010 to help kick start the Allied Golf Program. We use The First Tee Core Values to teach good sportsmanship, positive self-esteem, respect, honesty and responsibility. The First Tee equipment, such as the snag equipment, gives us the resources we need to work with students of all levels and abilities.
Q: What would you tell parents considering enrolling their child on the Allied team?
A: This program has helped athletes of all ability levels to participate in competitive athletic activities. It allows students athletes with and without disabilities to appreciate the value and strengths of each other as individuals as well as athletes.