On Thursday night of the Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach, the 81 juniors and the Champions Tour players attended the Legends & Leaders dinner. Nine guest speakers talked about each of The First Tee Nine Core Values and what they mean in their lives. Junior golfer Derrick Ow shares an inside look at the inspirational evening.
Hello, my name is Derrick Ow and I am a participant from The First Tee of Monterey County. I am one out of 80 juniors out of the entire country playing at the 2015 Nature Valley First Tee Open. Before I get started on writing about this event, there is something I want to say publicly. I have Autism Spectrum. I was bullied in school a lot because I have always had a tough time making friends. I have survived bouts of depression, social anxiety and suicide. The First Tee has taught me the core values of respect and confidence to be able to meet amazing participants from places like Long Island, New York to Lexington, Kentucky.
Tonight I am writing about the Legends and Leaders Event that was sponsored by Yoplait. It was a tremendous event that had amazing speakers. When I first got there I started to talk to Joe Pavelski from my favorite hockey team the San Jose Sharks. I asked him one question in our short conversation, “Do you still play golf even when it is hockey season?” He said “I have to keep my golf game in shape.”
Then I met one of my favorite golf writers Allen Shipnuck from Sports Illustrated. To meet any of your favorite writers is an honor and I compare it to a kid in a candy store. He told me that he is an alumni of my high school. To hear someone come out of my school and have a successful career is very motivating to me. We talked about how to choose a major carefully and his career. Some of his best advice was to always have a fall back plan.
Next the speakers of the event began to talk. They were all amazing and I could not thank them enough for taking their time to talk to us. I had three speakers that I really connected to.
First was Mike LeBrie a golf professional from Florida. He was involved in an accident that burned 95% of his body. The core value he talked about was perseverance. He said that you have to accept yourself for who you are and to never give up. I instantly felt that connection between our stories. The main thing that Mr. LeBrie said is you cannot control people’s emotions.
The next speaker was Mr. Pavelski the professional hockey player with the San Jose Sharks. He talked about respect. He spoke about having self-respect like being on time for practice and making sure you work out. The comparison is very similar to golf.
The last speaker of the night was Leon Panetta, former Secretary of Defense and director of the CIA. His core value was integrity. His message is to take risks in life because eventually the risks you take will pay off. I know personally in golf we all want to play conservative but when our country is in danger you have to take those risks and make quick decisions. He is known for directing the mission to capture Osama Bin Laden. There were risks involved with making sure they got the real guy, which they did. I think just like in golf you need take risks and make quick decisions on the fly and always stick with your gut.
Overall, I had so much fun at the Legends and Leaders Event. I will take away lots of advice from this night.
For my fellow junior constants I want to wish you the best of luck this weekend. No matter who wins, looses, or makes the cut—we are all champions, we are deserving of this honor and nobody will take that away from us. Thank you to Nature Valley for their continuing support of The First Tee. Thanks to The First Tee for making all these childhood dreams become reality.
I would also like to thank a couple of people. First my parents who have supported me and pushed me to be the best person I could be. My older sister Corrine, The First Tee alumni that has taught me how to conduct myself on and off the golf course. Lastly all of the friends I have made at the 2014 Life Skills and Leadership Academy, RBS Achievers of the Year, 2015 Outstanding Participant Leadership Forum and of course the new friends I have made this week. Thank you for being the support system I needed when I was down and for being part of my expanding go-to team. Whether you’re a mile away or halfway across the world you guys will always be my friends.