HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED WITH THE FIRST TEE?
MS: In 2007 I worked for a golf facility that did not offer The First Tee. My former General Manager and Board Member on The First Tee, Ron Parish suggested I get involved. Larry Lee, the former Program Director reached out to me and asked if I could help out with classes. I was able to work my schedule to open the golf shop every day so I could get off at 2pm and go to Lone Tree 2x a week and Diablo Creek 1 day a week to volunteer for The First Tee.
WHAT HAVE FIRST TEE PARTICIPANTS TAUGHT YOU?
MS: The participants teach me to have fun, and go with the flow. When I was just starting I used to be so stuck on trying to stick exactly to my lesson plans and cram way too much into the lesson. They’ve taught me over the years that less is more in a lot ways. And if I am having fun it’s likely the kids are too.
WHAT WOULD YOU TELL A PARENT WHO WAS CONSIDERING OF ENROLLING THEIR JUNIOR INTO A CLASS AT THE FIRST TEE?
MS: By enrolling your junior into The First Tee you are not only giving them access to a game they can play for the rest of their lives, you are also exposing them to life skills and core values. Like the game itself, these values and skills will be something your child uses the rest of their lives. It is an opportunity for someone else to reinforce that values that most of us try to teach our own children at home. It is a great fit with other activities, you do not need to give up playing other sports, in fact we encourage multi sport athletes. I have seen so many well rounded kids come through The First Tee. They excel at academics, play other sports, are active in clubs and other youth organizations and play instruments. There will be plenty of time to specialize when kids are in high school, but while they are young, get them into golf and everything else! It will only make them stronger if and when they do decide to specialize later. And the life skill curriculum at The First Tee is the best youth development program out there.
WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT BEING A COACH?
MS: Being a coach is the most rewarding thing I have done aside from raising my own children. I truly cherish the time I get to spend with these amazing young people. When I see kids I worked with when they were 5 and 6 go on to play high school and college golf and then continue to play into adulthood I feel so honored and grateful that I was able to play a role in their golf journey. Especially if I was their first ever golf coach. I am so lucky, I have the best job ever!
WHAT IS A HOBBY OR SOMETHING YOU DO THAT MIGHT SURPRISE OTHER COACHES OR THE FIRST TEE PARTICIPANTS?
MS: I have been practicing yoga for almost as long as I have been playing golf (25-ish years). But, if you have taken my classes that probably won’t surprise you. I also play the ukulele and love karaoke.
HOW WOULD YOUR PLAYERS DESCRIBE YOU AS A COACH?
MS: Goofy! And hopefully helpful, caring and fun.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE GOLF CLUB IN YOUR BAG AND WHY?
MS: The answer to both is my driver. I love to hit it far (just like the kids) but I also struggle with a big hook.
WHAT IS ONE STRATEGY YOU USE TO KEEP PARTICIPANTS ENGAGED?
MS: Got to read the class. If they are not enjoying an activity or getting bored I change it up. Always have lots of other things in my back pocket to do in case something I thought was going to be great doesn’t pan out. As long as we keep the general focus on the learning intention for the day I am ok mixing up whatever I may have had planned to keep the kids engaged
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE GAME OR ACTIVITY TO IMPLEMENT DURING CLASS?
MS: SO MANY! I like whatever ones that the kids enjoy. There is one called poison aka blocks (many people play it if they have to wait on a tee box), chipping dodgeball (that I learned from Coach Ron) or the adaptation putting dodgeball that I got from coach Bob. Putting horse race or closest without going in (both learned from coach Elinor). Or the Spider and Fly (aka Cat and Mouse) that I picked up during my TPI training (Titliest Performance Institute (level 2 training- specializes in junior athletic development)). I really like to set up several games for each class and have the participants rotate through the stations to keep things fun and activity based. And I do LOTS of drills on the range.
Thank you Coach Monica!