I have detailed many a time in this space how I feel athletics play a major part of the maturation of child to teenager to young adult.
Each sport can carry different ways of developing a youth athlete. Some teach teamwork, along with accountability to your teammates and coaches.
Others cover different bases — it’s an integral part of the growth of a young person.
And then there is golf.
I have often said I can find out more about a person in one round of golf than in a week of meetings. There is nowhere to hide when it’s you, the others in your foursome and the golf course.
Your character is on full display.
People in the golf industry have also embraced using the life skills the sport presents to help the youth of today grow not only as golfers, but equally as important, as a person.
The First Tee is at the forefront of that, with words such as honesty, integrity, respect and courtesy being four of the nine core values taught by the organization.
The First Tee of the Tri-Valley has been one of the top chapters in the country and regularly shares its success stories.
Two more have come to the forefront recently, as Taylor Maurer and Sophia Bardunias are stepping into the limelight. Both are currently golfers at Monte Vista High School in Danville and both have come through the First Tee program in Pleasanton.
Bardunias, a junior at Monte Vista, has been selected to the PURE Insurance Championship event in September at Pebble Beach Golf Links. The tournament takes place Sept. 20-25.
An official PGA Tour Champions event, the PURE Insurance Championship at the Pebble Beach pairs one First Tee junior with a PGA Tour Champions player and two amateurs.
First Tee participants are provided a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to attend the Legends & Leaders speaker program, which features notables from the business, sports and entertainment industries.
This event also provides the teens a unique mentoring experience on the golf course with their PGA Tour Champions player and two amateurs. The relationships formed during tournament week are genuine and deeply rooted.
“I began golfing at 7 years old and soon after joined the First Tee,” Bardunias said. “There not only did I improve my golf game, but I also learned valuable life skills that I carry with me in all aspects of my life.”
Maurer was selected as one of eight members to be on the 2022-23 First Tee Participant Advisory Council.
She traveled to the First Tee headquarters in Florida this week for the first kickoff council meeting. Maurer represented the Tri-Valley chapter and was a voice for participants across the country. The purpose of the council is to advise First Tee decision-makers on matters pertinent to First Tee participants.
The council consisted of a diverse group of eight current First Tee participants, along with two alumni who served as advisors for the program.
Maurer has been a participant with the First Tee of the Tri-Valley for the last 11 years and is currently at the ACE level.
A senior at Monte Vista, Maurer said the First Tee has played an integral part in her life. The nine core values are the foundation of the young lady that she has become. In addition to being an ACE level participant, she also teaches TARGET classes for the Tri-Valley Chapter.
She created a health and wellness book for kids of all ages to be used as a part of the First Tee life skills experience classes. This was a project she did for her Girl Scout Gold Award, which is the highest award a Girl Scout can earn.
Maurer’s book was a result of the COVID-19 pandemic to provide kids with exercises, nutrition tips and recipes, and mental wellness tips.
Editor’s note: Dennis Miller is a contributing sports writer for the Pleasanton Weekly. To contact him about his Pleasanton Preps column, email [email protected]