Each year, juniors from all chapters of The First Tee apply for different participant opportunities throughout The United States. One of these opportunities is the upcoming PURE Insurance Championship Impacting The First Tee, taking place September 19-24. There are however, additional participant opportunities that are equally fun and that provide a great learning experience for juniors; one of these is The First Tee Nor Cal Leadership Academy, which takes place over a 5 days in beautiful Monterey, California.
The 2017 academy took place from June 18th until June 22nd. Each one of those days is filled with activities participants were able to enjoy, and learning experiences that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. Click on the buttons below to read and see what took place at this academy!
On the very first day, juniors arrived at the Robert Louis Stevenson School in Monterey for the 5-day academy. One by one juniors arrived to the check in area from different chapters in Northern California, where they are met and greeted by coaches and representatives from their respective chapters. From here, juniors made their way to the dorm rooms that will house them during the academy, and are then free to explore the Robert Louis Stevenson School in Monterey until the day’s events begin.
Soon after, the starting time finally arrives! Juniors, Coaches and Chapter representatives meet once again in the amphitheater at the Stevenson School, where the basic rules for the academy are discussed, as well as information on their stay. After a brief but helpful orientation, everyone headed to the cafeteria, where dinner now awaits.
Following dinner, the entire group is off to the gym, where different group activities have been set by coaches to allow juniors to become familiar with one another in their respective color groups, and to get to know their coaches at little better. At one station, juniors are tasked with moving one person from one end of a line to the other, while stepping on plastic discs and avoiding the floor; another station has teams collaborating to build the highest tower possible out of index cards. While these stations serve as a fun welcome to the academy and introduction to juniors, they also play an important role as they help cement good teamwork, which will be imperative in the upcoming days.
Soon after having completed the activities and now knowing who their teammates are, juniors were free to explore and socialize until it was time for everyone to head to bed. At 10 pm good-nights are exchanged and everyone heads back to their own rooms, where they’ll be resting and preparing for the following day.
Day two began very early for juniors and coaches at The First Tee Nor Cal Leadership Academy. After breakfast, juniors and coaches headed down to Peter Hay Course next to Pebble Beach Golf Links. The day’s activities began by having juniors take part team exercises at different stations, with different games set up by coaches meant to test participant skills, their First Tee knowledge, and build their excitement for the activities to follow.
Once the group warm ups were completed, juniors participated in a shotgun tournament at the Peter Hay Course; however, this shotgun tournament had an interesting twist: juniors could only use two clubs for the entire round. The choice of which clubs was up to each participant, with an exception that clubs could not be shared with their peers. This was such as wonderful experience for all juniors and coaches, as it allowed everyone to become even more familiar with one another and learn to collaborate in order to obtain the best possible score as a team.
Following this round of golf and a quick lunch, juniors and coaches made their way to the Pebble Beach Golf Academy & Practice Facility, where Pebble Beach Management Staff welcomed them and shared a presentation about the Pebble Beach Company, its staff, and their personal stories with the Pebble Beach Company. Following this great presentation by the Pebble Beach staff, the entire group headed back to the Stevenson School for a quick break, and to prepare for the next item on their agenda: A trip to Monterey Bay and Cannery Row, where they would be able to enjoy themselves and have even more fun with their peers.
As the end of the day approached, students and coaches headed back to the Stevenson School for the final activities of an awesome day. Soon after dinner, juniors were asked to head to the auditorium at Stevenson, for a special performance by Eddie Bush, a singer/songwriter who was kind enough to share his amazing talent with juniors and coaches. After an excellent concert by Mr. Bush, it became the junior’s turn to become the artists. Prior to this academy, juniors learned that they would have to get together as a group and write a song inspired by The First Tee, and including The First Tee 9 Core Values; a song that they would later perform along with Mr. Bush. Needless to say, this opportunity allowed everyone to see the outcome of the great participation by The First Tee juniors, who had only met the previous day, but had grown very close by now.
Another great day began at The First Tee Nor Cal Academy! Just like the previous day, juniors got an early start, as today’s agenda has them playing a 9-hole round of golf at Del Monte Golf Course in Monterey. During the round of golf, participants tested their skills and enjoyed the great course in company of their peers. Once the round of golf was over, juniors and coaches hopped on the bus once again for the next item on the agenda: A tour of the California State University Monterey Bay. Upon arriving at CSUMB, the entire group was greeted by two young ladies, also students, who provided an excellent tour of the facilities as well as sharing their own experiences with The First Tee participants. It was an excellent tour, and it allowed juniors and coaches to explore the great facilities at CSUMB.
Continuing with the busy agenda for the day, the group of coaches and juniors made headed back to the Stevenson School, where our group had the opportunity to observe a presentation by Jake Reisdorf from the Carmel Honey Company. Although he’s in the 8th grade, Jake has successfully started his own company, which has allowed him the opportunity to share his knowledge about bees and beekeeping with different individuals, corporations, and luckily The First Tee participants. After an excellent presentation provided by Jake and his family, juniors and coaches had the opportunity to ask questions about bees, beekeeping, and of Jake and his experiences. Overall, this was a great experience to juniors, as it provided an excellent example of what constant perseverance and confidence can achieve.
Following this presentation, juniors and coaches were able to enjoy free time, which was well received, and well used by participants as some joined in a basketball game, while others enjoyed the free time and spent it with their peers and new friends.
Finally, as the day neared its end, our entire group gathered for dinner, and prepared for the final event of a very busy, but very rewarding day: a bonfire at Carmel Beach. After arriving at the beach, many juniors took part in different sports activities, while other juniors chose to enjoy the view and relax after another great day in Monterey in company of their peers, coaches, and Mr. Eddie Bush, who joined us for an encore performance at the beach.
The First Tee Nor Cal Leadership Academy is approaching its last day; but today is the big day for juniors and coaches alike. After a hearty breakfast, students and coaches made their way to Poppy Hills Golf Course, where an 18-hole shotgun tournament would take place. Throughout the entire Academy, juniors have been grouped into color teams: Red, Green, Blue, Purple, and Orange. To make the events at the Academy even more fun, a friendly competition takes place among these color groups where juniors complete different tasks and compete for points. Just like in a normal round of golf, a low score is better. Today’s tournament at Poppy Hills is exceptional for this competition, as all the teams are playing against each other, trying to win the different contests that take place on the course (closest to the hole, longest drive, etc.), while also attempting to achieve the lowest possible score as a team.
Following this fun experience, juniors and coaches returned to the Stevenson School in order to get ready for the evening’s formal dinner, as the Academy reached its final day. During this time, juniors also took advantage of the many amenities available at the Stevenson School, particularly basketball, while other participants chose to spend the time relaxing and enjoying the company of friends.
Finally, it was time to head back to Poppy Hills Golf Course for the formal dinner that would culminate another amazing day in Monterey. During this dinner, another fun competition took place, where juniors AND coaches from each team would compete against the other teams in showing their color pride in a “best dressed” competition. Team Red came out as the winner for this event, as their entrance and REDpresentation of their team was outstanding. Congratulations Team Red!
During this dinner, juniors and coaches also had the amazing opportunity to hear from Mr. Bobby Clamplett, a PGA Tour Life Member, Television Broadcaster, Pilot, and overall amazing gentleman. His presentation proved to be very inspiring for juniors, as he described his experiences and how his determination and perseverance has allowed him to have a very successful career.
The final day for the Nor Cal Leadership Academy has arrived, and with it the culmination for an incredible experience for juniors and coaches from Northern California. The day began with participants enjoying a great breakfast at the Stevenson School. Soon after, the entire group gathered in the gymnasium, where Coach Darren Avrit had prepared several fun and enjoyable activities for the juniors and each of their teams to participate in. From attempting to have 11 people jump the rope at the same time, to attempting to keep a huge beach ball from touching the ground, juniors had a great time, while collaborating and reinforcing the concept of teamwork and camaraderie towards a specific goal.
To complete this activity, juniors and coaches completed one final competition that would help determine which colored team would be crowned the winner for the 2017 The First Tee Nor Cal Leadership Academy. This activity consisted of a timed relay race, in which participants navigated through different obstacles in an effort to score the lowest time possible for their team. A fun turn of events took place during this event as well, as the coaches formed their own team, and completed the relay circuit in an attempt to defeat all the juniors, but alas, team Blue came out as the winner.
Once this second activity ended, juniors moved on to a similarly fun and challenging activity: A scavenger hunt, where each team would be given a sheet of paper with different questions, the answers of which would be found all over the campus at the Stevenson School. Again, collaboration and teamwork became crucial for this activity, as participants had to work as a team in order to successfully find all the correct answers to the questions.
Soon after, the entire group enjoyed another great lunch provided by the staff at the Stevenson School; after which, juniors and coaches gathered in the amphitheater for the final awards ceremony and culmination of the academy. In this ceremony, each of the Lead Coaches for the colored groups had a chance to recognize their participants with an award for their participation in this excellent academy. In addition to this however, three juniors from the group were recognized for different awards recognizing them for their outstanding performance and leadership at the Academy, these juniors were:
The Ken Morton, Sr. Core Value Award: Rishi Ajjarapu, from The First Tee of Silicon Valley
The Cathy Wagner Most Inspirational Award: John Scott Senz, from The First Tee of Contra Costa
The Sandy Tatum Leadership Award: Sydney Haughian, from The First Tee of the Central Coast
Once the ceremony completed, it was sadly time to say goodbye. Many memories were made during this incredible Academy, and many friendships were forged among students and coaches, all of which can now return to their respective chapters with a new perspective of The First Tee and its participants, and a new amazing experience they will remember for the rest of their lives.
Chris Dewar, Christine Uhalde, Shirley Gahm, Mike Firpo, Marvin Wiggs, Lionel Hunt, Darren Avirt, Chris Borrego, Scott Hess, Billy Gibbs, Jill Womble.
Kelli Corlett from The First Tee of Greater Sacramento, who plays a HUGE part in making this academy possible.
Tom Morton, also from The First Tee of Greater Sacramento, whose efforts also contributed to the success of this academy.
Michael Lowe and Youth On Course, who provided outstanding assistance and helped facilitate many of these awesome opportunities.
written by: Lucio J. Diaz, The First Tee of Contra Costa