The First Tee of Benton Harbor

Working with a “Go-To-Team” helps you become a better student, better citizen, better golfer, and better prepared for life. How has working with a “Go-To-Team” had a positive impact on one of these areas for you?

I have a group that consists of two coaches (swing coach and First Tee Coach), one mentor (adult male), and one friend that I consider my Go-To-Team for helping me become a better golfer. My swing coach has helped me change my grip and swing plane to increase my consistency in ball striking. His positive approach while teaching me has increased my confidence in my game. The coach I have at the First Tee has provided me with a lot of opportunities to grow as a golfer and improve my character through the game of golf, highlighted by a lesson with Jack Nicklaus. The manner in which this coach teaches me golf through the Nine Core Values allows me to present the best version of myself as a golfer. I also have an older friend that I attend the First Tee with that I inspire to be like since I have witnessed his success in the game of golf through different National First Tee Events. Finally, I have an adult mentor who plays golf with me periodically and challenges me to get better mentally. All of these people have played a significant role in me becoming a better golfer.

Discuss a time you were part of someone’s “Go-To-Team.” How did you help them become better at achieving their goal or goals?

Currently I serve as a mentor in a class at my high school called Peer to Peer. In this class, I have the privilege to work with three autistic students on a daily basis. My daily, one-on-one interactions with these students is focused on supporting the growth and development of their relationship building and communication skills. One of the strategies I use is to frequently ask questions about their personal interests to have them open up to me. I try my best to engage them in conversation and encourage dialogue with follow up questions. To help these students build better relationships, I try to introduce them to as many of my friends as possible. Although this is sometimes uncomfortable for the students I am working with, I feel that they are getting better and better at these interactions the more I put them in these situations. I feel that I have become an integral part of these students’ Go-To-Team, and it brings me great joy and satisfaction in helping them achieve their goals.

Tell us about a mentor or role model with whom you have built a quality relationship. How had this individual helped you achieve your personal goals?

Mason Dirlam, my friend from the First Tee I mentioned in the first question, is a role model of mine who has helped me achieve some of my goals in the game of golf. Through our time together in the different levels of the First Tee (we are currently working on our Ace status together), we have built a strong relationship based on trust and mutual goals. Mason has helped me work on and achieve some of my goals by constantly pushing me to get better as both a person and golfer on and off the course. Mason helps me get out of my comfort zone, which is where I find the most improvement. He listens and encourages me when I am down or frustrated, and also helps build my self-esteem and confidence by celebrating my achievements. Frequently, Mason will take me for dinner to help me evaluate my work ethic and strategy for achieving my goals. Through his successful experiences in the First Tee, and the similar goals I have for myself, Mason helps guide my plan of action in achieving the goals I have set for my golf game and the First Tee.