This past summer, Lauren Hoss and Natalie Haines were hired as interns for the Kids Golf Foundation of Illinois, a statewide junior golf organization based in Sugar Grove. Lauren and Natalie are both members of the golf team at Rosary High School in Aurora. The girls chose an internship and employment opportunity that was focused on the sport that they love. It was the first year as an intern for Lauren and the second for Natalie. Their Coach, Scott Walker, says it was a great experience, “Both girls love golf, so working in the sport and being around the game made sense for them.”
The Foundation offers internships and seasonal jobs to both high school and college students. Each internship or work experience provides the individual with a look inside the golf or the sports industry. “We have a number of interns join us each year,” said Holly Alcala, Foundation Director. “Each is given a significant amount of responsibility and works directly with myself and my staff on various projects.”
The Kids Golf Foundation offers junior golf programs and events year round to hundreds of youth organizations that service thousands of children. “Because of the scope and size of our Foundation, each intern is challenged and expected to contribute to the team. We have a formula for internships and it is successful because we know that they walk away with some incredible experiences that they will apply to all areas of their life.”
Lauren and Natalie experienced that challenge this past year; the Foundation not only had their annual offerings, but they were also instrumental in the planning and the staging of the LPGA’s 2009 Solheim Cup that came to Rich Harvest Farms. Natalie recalls being in charge of sending different materials out daily and carefully taking inventory for the company. The girls were also in charge of the design and creation of monthly updates or newsletters that were being sent to the 2009 Solheim Cup Junior-Am participants and Standard Bearers. In time, they started to become more comfortable and confident in the projects they were assigned. Natalie says, “I have learned a lot of new skills and that’s something that I can take away from the experience.”
“The Foundation takes internships very seriously,” said Alcala. “We know we are mentoring young adults, so we purposely try to provide them with experiences and opportunities that allow for them to grow and develop. Each employee regardless of title or position carries a significant amount of responsibility. Only by working together are we able to achieve what we do annually, and for that we are very proud.”
The events that the Foundation conducts do require a significant amount of planning; Lauren was able to see that first hand during The Springer Cup, an annual three day event. “Initially we helped out with the welcome dinner and banquet on the first day by getting the kids organized before they went in to the hall,” says Lauren. Next, she helped during the tournament by facilitating teambuilding events, and putting on a skit with the children. “It was a lot of fun to see the kids develop through the process and learn how to work together.”
The expectations that the Foundation set for the girls made them put forth their best effort. “The internship involved some hard work but I learned that hard work is necessary to succeed,” says Lauren. The girls were able to take some of the knowledge they received with the Foundation and incorporate it into their schoolwork. Lauren and Natalie made posters and did a presentation about The Solheim Cup for one of their classes when they returned to Rosary High School. Mary-Lou Kunold, their athletic director, says “The Foundation did a great service; it opened their eyes to more than just hitting the golf ball around. It let them see the behind the scenes of the sport they love.”
When it comes to the girls’ sport of choice the internship made an impact in their game as well. Natalie says “A couple of times girls on the golf team didn’t want to practice. I’ve pushed them to practice because I knew we needed to.” Walker says he saw Natalie’s sense of maturity and leadership improve when she came back to play as a senior this past year.
The future looks bright for both girls. Natalie wants to continue with her love of golf, she plans to attend Carthage College and continue playing on a team. When it comes to prioritizing her goals, she remembers how the internship helped her. “I knew work came first and afterwards you need to know what things are important.”
Next fall, Lauren will be returning to the Rosary High School golf team for her final year; her coach looks forward to her participating again. “She has a great temperament when she is on the course,” says Walker. Lauren then hopes to go to college to play golf at a division II school. The girls look forward to the next step in their lives and they hope that other students have an internship experience like theirs. Lauren says, “My internship was great, a good first job.”
Currently, the Foundation has four interns working over the winter and spring semester. Each is working alongside another full time staff member on various projects or in specific areas. As the Foundation continues to impact kids in Illinois it hopes to be able to identify additional student-athletes or others that possess the same characteristics and willingness to learn as Lauren and Natalie had. “Both Lauren and Natalie did a fantastic job for us,” said Alcala. “I have no doubt that they will continue to be successful in their endeavors.”
The Foundation continues to impact children through golf and still remains a junior golf resource year-round to individuals wishing to start a program. The Foundation still offers internships for diligent students, for more information, please contact the Foundation at (630) 466-0913 or visit our website at www.kidsgolffoundation.org, where you can sign up for our online newsletter.