Last week Kennedi Whitener-Mason, 15, and Alaina Malcolm, 17, joined 90 juniors from The First Tee chapters across the country in Blaine, Minnesota for the National Life Skills and Leadership Academy. Not only were they provided opportunities to develop and hone their golf skills, they were given tools to become leaders on and off the course.
Upon returning home, we asked Kennedi and Alaina to provide us a behind the scenes look into their trip.
Kennedi, a rising sophomore at Pine Forest High School, noted she was quickly put to the test, learning the ropes of airport travel on Day 1, spending her morning navigating flight delays and airport directional, alone for the first time.
Upon arrival to Minnesota, Kennedi and Alaina were assigned roommates at the National Sports Center and color groups, as they would work in teams for the rest of the week.
For a portion of each day, groups worked with The First Tee golf coaches to assess their skills, implement fun activities to aid in improvement and then enjoyed on course team challenges at the White Bear Yacht Club, a top five facility in Minnesota.
Alaina, a rising senior at Robeson Early College High School, said she’s really excited to share the newly learned skills drills with fellow participants back here in the Sandhills! Eluding that they are already helping her improve.
For Kennedi, the trip to the University of Minnesota was a memorable one – her color group made a wrong turn during their on campus scavenger hunt, sending them over a bridge, by foot – twice! While on campus they also had the opportunity to meet with Price Waterhouse Cooper and learn about the importance of budgeting, how to properly budget and implementation.
All ninety teens also had the opportunity to expand their knowledge of the golf business. This included engaging in specialized on course tutorials with Toro Company where they learned about golf course irrigation, how to cut fairways and greens, and the different types of machinery necessary to maintain a golf course facility.
Local turf grass specialist put participants to the test, teaching them how to tell the difference between various strands of grass and then asking them to identify grass types from a container garden. No word yet on how many they guessed right!
Their last golf tutorial stop was with the marketing division of PGA TOUR Superstore where they learned the ins and outs of marketing in golf retail.
Nightly, all participants, The First Tee instructors and staff were able to come together for fun activities including Ice Skating, pick up soccer, board games and other team building activities. Aiding in the foundation of forming new relationships around the country.
Overall, Alaina felt the experience to Minnesota, representing The First Tee of the Sandhills, was both humbling and a special honor. It broadened her horizons, motivated her to become a better golfer, and excited her to share what she learned with her hometown in hopes of motivating other young kids to get involved.
Our teens soaked in as much knowledge as possible, made tons of new friends from across the network, and positively represented our chapter and their communities on the national stage.
We are looking forward to providing these young ladies the stage to share their experiences with fellow participants, encouraging others to apply for national opportunities in the future and inspiring new faces to get involved for the first time.
Cheers to a successful 2016 National Life Skills and Leadership Academy!