Junior golfers, parents, Site Coordinators, and coaches gathered in Naperville this February to attend the Kids Golf Foundation’s College Golf Information Session. More than 160 individuals, wanting to learn more about college and becoming a college golfer and student-athlete, attended the session.
The Kids Golf Foundation held the event because there has been a noticeable increase of interest in playing college golf over recent years. The session was designed to equip the attendees with college-related resources and give them the chance to hear first-hand experiences about what it means to be a collegiate athlete. Holly Alcala, Foundation Director, said, “We are extremely pleased with the turnout and results from the session. Providing educational opportunities such as this is becoming more important for our Foundation.”
At the session, the Foundation provided each attendee with an extensive amount of resources to use as reference during the event. Custom handbooks created by the Foundation were given, which included information about how to prepare for college during high school, how to choose the right college, an overview of the college golf recruiting process, and more. Also included was a complete list of Men’s and Women’s College Golf Programs in Illinois.
The attendees also received information from sponsors. AthletiCo, the American Junior Golf Association, the Illinois Junior Golf Association, and the National Collegiate Scouting Association, all provided students and adults with support and resources. Attendees were given information about how to get connected with college coaches, find junior tournaments, attend camps, and many others.
One of the sponsors, Dave O’Connor from the National Collegiate Scouting Association, an organization that helps match college coaches with athletes, hopes to assist students after the event. Dave said, “It is great that the Kids Golf Foundation held something like this, they provided the audience with great information and we want to help the attendees to take the next step towards a successful collegiate career.”
In addition to exhibitors, attendees also received advice from many guest speakers. Cindy Harris, Associate Athletic Director of Compliance at Illinois State University, supplied information on how to stay academically eligible for collegiate athletics. She provided the listeners with guidance on how to navigate through the many terms and procedures that are involved with becoming a student-athlete. The Illinois Student Assistance Commission, an organization that issued over 186,000 grants last year, gave a presentation on how to apply for financial aid, find a good college fit, and locate scholarships.
Additionally, a panel of coaches and teaching professionals took time to discuss the type of practice regiment that a high school student should maintain, the best way to market themselves to college coaches as a prospective student-athlete, and the expectations that a college coach may have for their student-athletes.
During the final session, attendees were given the chance to listen to firsthand experiences of both current and former collegiate student-athletes. Attendees heard stories and testimonials about the best parts of being a collegiate athlete and the responsibilities that come with it. The speakers also shared details on the academic services that they used to maintain good grades despite their hectic schedules.
Throughout the session, parents and guardians received advice about how to prepare their son or daughter for college and athletics. They learned how they could help their child get ready for the recruiting process and what steps they should encourage their son or daughter to take on their own. Janet Ferguson, a parent whose son attends Wheeling High School, said, “I found the sessions and materials to be extremely informative and very helpful. Never having been exposed to all the ins and outs of College Athletics, I learned a great deal and feel better prepared to help guide my son.”
With over 29 different communities in attendance at the College Golf Information Session the possibility for impact as a result of this session seems likely. Anderson Smith, a Site Coordinator from DuPage AME Church, saw the long-lasting value of the event. “This was a priceless event; hearing the college students talk about their experience was inspirational for my group and me. I truly believe that my community was able to see the big picture in this event and we plan on making improvements to our program based on what we learned today.”
During the closing statements of the College Golf Information Session the collegiate athletes imparted one last piece of advice. Cory Blenkush, a former collegiate golfer from DePaul university, said, “When it comes to golf, it’s a worldwide sport, if you continue with the sport you will make connections with people from every corner of the globe and that is something invaluable both professionally and socially.”
The Foundation continues to impact children through golf and remains a junior golf resource year-round to individuals wishing to start a program. For a listing of college golf teams for boys and girls, please visit our website at www.kidsgolffoundation.org, and look under “Golf Resources” in the “Get Involved” Section.