First Tee kicks off Game Changers Academy with support from AWS, Mayo Clinic, Topgolf Callaway Brands

Former NFL players Eric Ebron and John Randle, fashion designer and First Tee – Minnesota board member Houston White and Paralympian Victoria Arlen will headline the weeklong academy focused on embracing our differences.

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (July 9, 2024) – Seventy-two teens from across the country will attend the First Tee Game Changers Academy Honoring Joe Louis Barrow Jr. in Minneapolis, July 9-13, 2024. The teens will participate in important conversations on topics like inclusivity and community building facilitated by RISE, a national leader championing social justice in sports.

The week will kick off with a “Critical Conversation” hosted by RISE on Tuesday, July 9, featuring:

  • Former Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle and NFL Hall of Famer, John Randle
  • Former NFL Pro Bowler and golf influencer, Eric Ebron
  • First Tee alumna Mackenzie Mack, Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Topgolf Callaway Brands
  • Shelby Johnson, M.D., a sports medicine specialist at Mayo Clinic
  • Ebony Taylor, head of the Global Strategic Customer and Community Engagement Office at AWS

Other highlights of the week include a trip to Topgolf on Thursday, July 11, where participants will experience an afternoon of educational programming before an evening of play. They’ll be joined by Paralympic gold medalist and ESPN host Victoria Arlen. The closing night speaker on Friday, July 12, will be fashion designer Houston White, a board member of First Tee – Minnesota, who will be donating golf apparel for the teens to wear during their 18-hole scramble earlier in the day.

For the first time, this year’s event will be sponsored by AWS, Mayo Clinic and Topgolf Callaway Brands, which in addition to providing financial support, will engage with participants through educational sessions throughout the week. Workshops will cover a variety of topics to foster personal growth and understanding and empathy for others.

“We are grateful to AWS, Mayo Clinic and Topgolf Callaway Brands for supporting this event, which really encapsulates First Tee’s mission,” said Greg McLaughlin, First Tee CEO. “By using golf to instill life skills and values, First Tee aims to build game changers. We know the teens will take what they learn at this event back to their communities to create positive change.”

This academy is an evolution of First Tee’s original participant event, and it honors Joe Louis Barrow Jr., First Tee’s former CEO who led the organization from 2000 until his retirement in 2017. It’s one of several national opportunities provided by First Tee headquarters designed to inspire and encourage high school students on a deeper level as they progress through the program and toward higher education opportunities.  

The 72 teens attending the Academy can be viewed here.