The National New Site of the Year and Illinois Site Coordinator of the Year awards have been announced. The Kids Golf Foundation gives out the Site Coordinator of the Year award to recognize those with sincere commitment to positively impact kids. This year the number of recipients for the Coordinator of the Year award has increased. “It is more difficult each year to select just one winner because the bar is being raised in quality of the people and the programs,” says Holly Alcala, Foundation Director.
The winners of the Site Coordinator of the Year award are Pam Tyska, Gene Petty, and Roger McChristian. This award is given out based on the Coordinator’s ability to make a connection with the participants and how involved they are with the Kids Golf Foundation.
One of the winners, Pam Tyska, has seen her site at Northern Illinois University grow. Pam has been doing the program for more than five years in the DeKalb area. During that time the number of participants in the program has tripled and continues to increase every year. Pam says, “Our Hook A Kid On Golf programs have become a part of our team culture.” Since the location is so close to the university, many NIU golfers volunteer and help out with the different programs that are offered.
The other winners of the Site Coordinator of the Year are Gene Petty and Roger McChristian from Peoria Park District. Gene and Roger run two Tee Level Clinics each year, with 50 kids in each clinic. Each youth that attends the Tee Level Clinic plays for free. Roger says, “With the grants that we receive from the Kids Golf Foundation and from other sources, we don’t have to charge any fees.” The kids don’t walk away empty handed after the experience either. “We are able to make sure that each child goes home with a set of starter golf clubs,” says Roger. Youngsters in the clinic use their golf clubs at the driving range or the more experienced attendees can play at the Madison Park Golf Course.
Besides the Tee Level Clinics, Peoria is also involved in the Junior Series Tournaments. They will go to six different tournaments during the month of May and July. Gene and Roger provide the kids with transportation to all the tournaments if they need it. The Site Coordinators are focused on helping the kids into the future. “For adolescents who have potential in golf, we help them identify colleges to attend and play golf at.”
Unlike the Site Coordinator of the Year, which is presented by the Kids Golf Foundation, the New Site of the Year is a national award given by Hook A Kid On Golf. This is the first year that the recipient of New Site of the Year has been from Illinois. The winner is the South Shore Junior Golf Association and their Site Coordinators Hurman Mathus and Terrell Andrews. South Shore Junior Golf Association held six Green Level Training Programs, six Tee Level Clinics, and an advanced level clinic for those who wanted to learn more.
“With the advanced level we want to give the experienced youth more tools to help them become better at the game,” says Terrell Andrews. The clinics run by the South Shore Junior Golf Association are two hours long so that the coaches can focus on the children both in a group and on an individual level. Often time the clinics run past two hours because Terrell and Hurman want all the kids to get a feeling of accomplishment.
“We will stay past the two hour limit when we need to just to make sure that an individual gets done what they aimed to do,” says Terrell. This dedication to helping the kids improve in the game of golf is what Terrell attributes to their success this past year. Terrell and Hurman are also committed to giving the youth as much opportunity as possible. The Site Coordinators know if the youngsters continuously play golf they might receive scholarships and go to college.
In looking to the future, the Coordinators want to open up a full-time golf academy that operates during the normal business hours everyday. They are hoping to continue with the program and make a place to help any kid interested in the area of golf, regardless of their level of skill. “Through the program, the kids have an experience that they wouldn’t otherwise have,” Hurman says. “I enjoyed the way the Kids Golf Foundation set up the program; they gave us the structure and then allowed us to add what we needed to make it fit for the kids.”
When referring to winning the award, Terrell says “I am happy and surprised; our vision is and always has been to help kids learn a sport that is not played often in Chicago.”
Congratulations to all the 2009 winners for all your hard work and dedication to the kids. This year was great and 2010 looks like it will bring even greater promise.
The Foundation continues to impact children through golf and still remains a junior golf resource year-round to individuals wishing to start a program. 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.