Three The First Tee of Benton Harbor Participants Attend National Academies

As well as local programs, The First Tee of Benton Harbor participants have access to national opportunities within The First Tee network.

Mason Dirlam, from The First Tee of Benton Harbor, attended The First Tee College Golf Prep Academy in Reno, Nev., July 20-27. Dirlam was among 24 junior golfers from The First Tee, selected by a national panel of judges to participate in this academy for elite players.

The First Tee College Prep Golf Academy is a unique opportunity for participants within the network who are interested in pursuing collegiate golf. Participants receive life-skills and golf instruction from The First Tee coaches and special guest speakers to help improve their chances to compete at a higher level athletically and academically.

Dirlam also attended the 2016 Perfect Sense Digital Pro-Am in Washington, D.C. Dirlam was among 16 junior golfers selected by a national panel of judges to participate.

The Perfect Sense Digital Pro-Am welcomes golfers from The First Tee, Special Olympics and Feherty’s Troops First Foundation from around the country. Dirlam had the privilege to play at Congressional Country Club, where the Pro-Am was held.

“The experience of getting to know new people and getting the honor to meet Special Olympics athletes was really something special,” said Dirlam. “I made new friends and got to become friends with my new buddy Kevin, who competes in the Special Olympics. This event is once-in-a-lifetime, and it will always stand out as one of the best weeks of my life.”

Davis Longyear and Grace Ondrias from The First Tee of Benton Harbor were selected to attend The First Tee Life Skills & Leadership Academy in Blaine, Minn., July 6-12. Ondrias and Longyear joined more than 90 golfers from The First Tee to participate in this national event.

“The skills I learned at the academy made me think of my actions more and how it impacted the people around me,” said Ondrias. “I can use that to develop better leadership skills and become a more positive influence on my peers.”

The academy provides participants valuable character education and leadership instruction during the weeklong event. Participants have the opportunity to develop and hone skills to become leaders in their chapters, schools and communities while experiencing championship golf, career exploration and dorm living.

“After this trip, I plan to stay in contact with many of the people that I met and use the things that I learned in my everyday life,” said Davis Longyear. “I’m very grateful to The First Tee for this opportunity and would encourage others to take advantage of all it has to offer.”