The First Tee Coaches Change Lives

2015 MentorWe all know that a coach’s role in a young person’s life can be very influential. A coach can help a young athlete develop a positive attitude, love for the game, and respect for coaches, teammates and opponents. Below is an excerpt from a speech given by Neha Sikand at the 2015 Network Meeting in Dallas, describing how her coach, Terri Benson, has positively impacted her life. Neha is an Eagle-level participant at The First Tee of Central Coast and was one of The First Tee Outstanding Participant Award finalists.
Neha Sikand
“I joined The First Tee when I was in first grade, being active in many sports. So why did I choose golf? If it weren’t for Coach Terri Benson, I may not have focused on golf and be known as the golf lover from The First Tee of Central Coast. When someone shouts “FORE” in golf, an image of a person with an errant shot, and people ducking for cover comes to mind; it has a seemingly negative connotation. However, the word “four,” for me represents four important core values that I learned from The First Tee through Coach Terri.
Coach Terri Benson
Coach Terri Benson
1. Confidence. When I first joined The First Tee, I was very shy. At my chapter, I learned the concept “meet and greet,” and through my coach’s constant encouragement, I gradually opened up. Today I have come a long way from that shy, reluctant person to the founder and president of my high school Debate Club and captain of the golf team. 2. Integrity. Paul Harvey, the famous radio commentator, once said, “Golf is a game in which you yell ‘fore,’ shoot six, and write down five.” Coach Terri taught me integrity–writing down the correct score even when no one is looking. Because if I don’t, I’m cheating myself. This value of integrity has helped me in golf and school.
Neha displaying Confidence as she addresses more than 800 attendees at the 2015 Network Meeting in Dallas.
Neha displaying Confidence as she addresses more than 850 attendees at the 2015 Network Meeting in Dallas.
3. Perseverance. Coach Terri has always helped me. Last year, I confided in her about my stress from school and activities. She asked me, “What are you afraid of? So what if you shoot a high score in golf or get a B in school? The most important part is to never give up.” That advice has stuck with me so I can persevere through obstacles. 4. Responsibility. Coach Terri taught me to be responsible for my actions, develop leadership skills and be role model as a student coach. Recently, I started my service project to increase the number of female golfers at my chapter, working closely with Coach Terri to organize an all-girls pizza outreach. Coach Terri joined me on Saturday to help promote The First Tee on a day when she wasn’t even getting paid.
Neha with one of the influential coaches at her chapter, Darren Avrit
Neha with one of the influential coaches at her chapter, Darren Avrit
Throughout my whole time at The First Tee, there has been one constant: Coach Terri. She has been my coach, mentor, inspiration and most importantly my friend, and I thank her for all of the wonderful things she has taught me. I would also like to thank all of The First Tee coaches who, like Coach Terri, are working every day to help junior golfers build character and succeed in life through the game of golf.”