County Judge, Veronica Escobar

  • First Tee program teaches you valuable lessons
  •  
  • Aaron Martinez

    Issue date: 7/2/08 Section: Sports

     

    Kristi Albers gets help with the cutting of the ribbon for the inaguration of the First Tee of Greater El Paso program.

    Kristi Albers gets help with the cutting of the ribbon for the inaguration of the First Tee of Greater El Paso program.

     

     Austin Albers hits the inagural tee on Saturday, June 28 at Ascarate Golf Course.

    Austin Albers hits the inagural tee on Saturday, June 28 at Ascarate Golf Course.

     

    Jorge Ambacher gets praise from Kristi Albers for  taking the initiative of calling her directly to see if he could join the First Tee program.

    Media Credit: Fernie Castillo

    Jorge Ambacher gets praise from Kristi Albers for taking the initiative of calling her directly to see if he could join the First Tee program.

     

    In front of more than two dozen kids, the Ascarate Golf Course held the grand opening of The First Tee of Greater El Paso program June 28. The program has the goal to teach life skills to children through the game of golf.

    The official ribbon-cutting ceremony of the El Paso chapter of the national program was performed by Kristi Albers, executive director of El Paso's program, Mike Myrick, program director and board member, Tai Moran, director of the Central Plains Region Affairs, and El Paso County Commissioner Veronica Escobar.

    "I wanted to do something worthwhile. El Paso has been so good to me and if I can give back, I am excited about it," former LPGA player Albers said. "This is going to help so many kids. This will be perfect for kids who have never touched a club. It will all revolve around the core values, teach kids to make better decisions, to be honest. The kids are getting an education and they don't really know that they are. They are out to play golf."

    The core values of the program are confidence, respect, judgment, responsibility, sportsmanship, courtesy, honesty, integrity and perseverance. These nine important life lessons will be taught at Ascarate Park out on the golf course and in a class.

    "I am very happy to play a part in this wonderful program. First Tee will teach kids not only about golf, but important lessons that will make them into great students, and they can carry these lessons on to adulthood," Escobar said. "The kids will learn great life skills and it will also show what Ascarate Park has to offer to these kids and their families, and creates a great relationship between the county, community and the program."

    The First Tee's classroom will be inside a triple-wide trailer behind the Ascarate Golf Course's clubhouse. The program plans to continue to expand with additions of a deck and awning to the trailer.

    "We've got so much potential here at Ascarate. This is the appropriate place for kids all over El Paso to come," Myrick said. "We have various programs. We have the introduction, and then we have the par program, the birdie, the eagle and the ace. By the time they become an ace, they will be eligible for scholarships. The goal is to try to build a great kid. If they become a great golfer, that is a bonus. And some will do both."

    The enthusiasm and excitement the kids have shown for the program was evidenced by the smiles on the faces of lines of kids as they hit golf balls all day long. It was very noticeable with 9-year-old Jorge Ambacher, who took the initiative of finding out about the program and making sure he was one of the first to sign up. With encouragement from his grandfather, the fifth grader from Carlos Rivera Elementary School sought out Albers for the opportunity.

    "I wanted to learn more about golf," Ambacher said. "My grandpa encouraged me. I went on my computer, found the number and called Kristi Albers. I've played golf, but very little. I want to learn more. I am really excited about being part of this and I can't wait to learn more about golf."

    The determination and willingness displayed by Ambacher made it all worthwhile for Albers.

    "For a young man his age to make an effort of going online to find more information about the program, and to have the courage to pick up the phone and call me, just shows the desire and excitement this program can bring to these kids," Albers said. "That phone call by this young man just made all the hard work that we have been doing for over a year well worth it. This is exactly what the program is about. Giving the kids a chance to come out and have fun, while learning core values that will help them now and in the future."

    The First Tee of Greater El Paso program will begin classes on Monday, July 7 for children aged 7 to 18. The classes will last for three weeks with two classes a week. The nonprofit program has an enrollment cost of $75 a year with scholarships available. For more information, contact Albers at 373-4564 or Myrick at 422-0394.

    Aaron Martinez may be reached at prospector@utep.edu.



  • County Judge
    Veronica Escobar