I realize that I have already done a spotlight on First Tee last spring. I don’t usually do repeats, because there are so many great organizations out there to talk about! However, when Community Impact Coordinator, Lauren Graziano brought this story to my attention, I felt like I needed to share it. Especially since the organization is often misunderstood.
First Tee is a youth development organization that enables kids to build the strength of character that empowers them through a lifetime of new challenges. By seamlessly integrating the game of golf with a life skills curriculum, they create active learning experiences that build inner strength, self-confidence, and resilience that kids can carry to everything they do.
This past summer, a young First Tee participant named Levi helped the team truly see the impact of First Tee’s youth programs and how important the mentorship First Tee coaches offer really is. The story is told from the coach’s perspective.
Levi is full of life, laughter, positivity, and so enthusiastic about everything he does. At First Tee, we only
see him on the golf course, but I had thought that was his personality in all aspects of life. The way he
encourages those around him is truly amazing. Even when his golf opponents hit a bad shot, Levi is
always cheering them on and encouraging them to do better on the next shot.
Little did I know, Levi is battling severe depression. His dad approached me while Levi was playing golf
and thanked me sincerely for the programs and camps we offer at First Tee and especially for all the
amazing coaches who have helped Levi throughout his golf career. His dad continued to tell me that
they have been taking Levi to counseling and therapy for severe depression and suicidal thoughts. He
said that when Levi steps onto a golf course that his whole mentality changes. Golf has been the one
thing to keep him stable and excited for life. His dad also said that Levi has mentioned my name
numerous times during therapy and that he feels so happy while he is golfing at First Tee and that he
loves his golf coaches.
While his dad was telling me this, I had a knot in my throat and a pit in my stomach. I never in a million
years would have known what Levi was going through if his dad had not told me this. Although my heart
aches so badly for Levi, I am filled with more passion and drive than ever before. It helped me realize
that what we do at First Tee is so much more than golf. These true-life moments, the impacts First Tee is
making outside of golf through the mentorship coaches provide is the heart of our mission. I am so
honored that I get be Levi’s happy place. And that he feels joy, excitement, and safe at First Tee.
Kim is a mom, lover of being active and the outdoors,
and helper of nonprofits and small businesses.