Part 4 of our Guest Blog Series – This post is written by Chris Sargent, Program Director of The First Tee of New Hampshire.
The First Tee of NH coaches life skills and core values that are inherent in golf, to children of all ages. However, on another level: The First Tee of NH nurtures the space by providing the place for its participants to self-discover their own swing, their authentic swing, their authentic way of Being in the world. We do this by creating games and activities that are fun. These golf-like games lure each student into their unique learning potentials—in them, while our participants learn something about golf, they synchronically learn something about their own unique person.
Yes, we are a non-profit youth development organization.
Yes, we coach life skills and core values through the game of golf.
Yes, we seamlessly integrate these core values and life skill with enjoyable golf like games and activities that are meant to hook each young participant into a style of golf that promotes healthy and creative living.
Yes, our aim is for each participant to bridge what they practice in golf over to everyday life.
To be sure, these are our theoretical goals—these are why we exist; however now, I want to tell you our lived story.
Tylor Plaza (age 17).
Tylor joined the First Tee program to become a better golfer, but, in his words, “it has become so much more than that. The coaching that grew me as a golfer, at the same time nurtured me as a person; and I owe it all to The First Tee of NH.”
The transitions Tylor’s experienced at The First Tee are helping him transition from High School to College. His words: “The nine core values and life skill STAR (Stop to notice what is in front of me, Think of all options, Anticipate the possible result of each option, then Respond with the best choice) became the ground work for who I am as a human being. Words cannot express my gratitude to those who have supported The First Tee over the years, this organization made who I am today, thank you.”
Perseverance and Overcoming Adversity
Mack was born with a disability that doctors diagnosed as a “significant language disorder” and possibly Auditory Processing Disorder (APD). Although very bright, Mack has difficulty understanding complex directions and forming correct sentences. The best way to describe it is hearing underwater.
“He often would comment about how his ‘brain is broken’ and that kids pick on him, but being involved with The First tee of NH has turned things around,” said Mack’s father, Ron Hansico. “When he plays golf with First Tee kids, they seem to respect him for what he Can do instead of his speech. It was amazing to see Mack so happy and surrounded by friends. We attribute all of this to The First Tee, its Core Values and its amazing staff.”
Mack relies on perseverance while transitioning from the move back to NH. Golf is Mack’s ground and support.
More than just golf, Mack and his mother informed me that it was The First Tee of NH that provides a generative space for Mack. We were there for him when he was 7 and moved away and we were there for him at age 11 when he returned. Indeed, the First Tee of NH provided a consistency for Mack’s life.
If it were not for our program scholarship funding, Mack’s family could not participate in First Tee programing. That places Mack as the prime example of First Tee Philosophy: Every child can play.”
Connor Allard and Sierra Yim
I noticed that without prodding, Connor Allard was repairing his ball marks on the greens and replacing his divots on the fairways. The notion of respect for our surroundings was beautifully deepened when Sierra Yim stopped to notice a baby toad finding its way to the nearest creek. And a sense of wonder developed from the entire class as we played around the numerous ground hogs scurrying throughout the entire Sagamore Golf Course. One day a bald eagle flew overhead and instilled a profound emotion of awe in each young witness. Indeed, making sure that each participant at least becomes aware of the magnificent expressions of nature that permeate each golfing venue is coaching an integrative ideal of Respect for oneself, for others, and for our natural environment.
Matthew Dill (age 6)
Matthew, a loyal First Tee participant, learned to fully understand the essence of Perseverance. He bridged this core value into everyday life and coached it to his mother. While she was frustrated engaged in a difficult task, Matthew said, “You have to have Perseverance Mommy; you have to just keep trying.”