The following is an excerpt from a speech Amber Hardeman, a graduating senior at Vanderbilt University and a former participant of The First Tee of Greater Dallas, gave at The First Tee 2013 Network Meeting in Nashville, Tenn. about what The First Tee has meant to her.
“When I joined The First Tee of Greater Dallas in 2005, I was highly disinterested. I didn’t like golf. I didn’t want to be out in the 100 degree Texas heat swinging a metal rod, and I certainly didn’t believe the program could provide for me half of what it ultimately did. To my ‘brilliant’ 14-year old mind, it was just another sports club that I would quickly quit after getting too bored.
After a couple months in the program, I was named Most Outstanding Female Golfer at my chapter and that created a challenge for me. I actually wanted to improve my skills, so I started putting in more effort and taking more personal initiative. I quickly made friends, had the opportunity to play at beautiful courses in the area and applied to several national participant opportunities. Little did I know from this humble spark, The First Tee would significantly transform my entire life!
As I enter the next phase of life, I look back at e First Tee and realize that my start there, and my subsequent experiences, have helped me determine my career goals. In The First Tee, one of the first things we learn is how to set and achieve reachable goals.
Though I may not have liked the program as a know-it-all teenager, I am so glad that the caring adults at The First Tee of Greater Dallas took notice of me, encouraged me and presented me with opportunities that would inspire and change my life forever.
The First Tee is not only a program for golf development, but a program and organization that provides young people with tools, empowers them to use them and gives them initiative to grow into successful leaders and role models for those growing up behind them.
My hope is that down the road, when someone asks any current or previous participant of the program, ‘What exactly is The First Tee?’, they can look up with a smile and say confidently, ‘The First Tee is ME! I am The First Tee!’”