Manhattan sends 3 to national golf programs

By Grant Guggisberg

Whether it’s for a college scholarship or even a paying job, filling out applications is typically a tedious process that oftentimes doesn’t pay off.

In the case of three Eagle-level participants in The First Tee of Manhattan, taking the time to apply for national leadership programs was worth it.

Manhattan High golfers Drew Casper, Pierson McAtee and Hannah Devane have all recently received the chance to participate in highly competitive programs through the national office of The First Tee, a program designed to give students of all ages and backgrounds the opportunity to learn life skills through the game of golf.

“I’m very proud of Drew and Pierson and Hannah,” said Bernie Haney, executive director of the Manhattan chapter. “Number one, for staying dedicated and committed to The First Tee of Manhattan, number two, for taking the time and interest to apply, and number three, for being selected and getting the chance to enjoy those rewarding opportunities.”

For Casper, acceptance to The First Tee Training Program at Hank Haney IJGA in June offered him the chance to join 51 other participants from around the country at Hilton Head Island, S.C., working on all aspects of his golf game.

“He was accepted and spent a week with some of the top instruction in South Carolina,” Haney said. “He got to hone his golf skills and become a better player along with utilizing his life skills he was taught through The First Tee programming.”

McAtee got the chance to travel to San Diego in July to attend The First Tee Leadership and Lifeskills Academy, where he won an award as the top male leader during the week long camp.

“It was a week long experience with some of the top First Tee coaches in The First Tee network, so he was able to learn from them,” Haney said. “And in addition, at the end of the program, he was recognized as the top male leader of the week, called the William J. Powell leadership award. What a neat thing for Pierson and it was obviously selected by all the coaches there.”

Haney said it was Devane who landed perhaps the biggest award of the summer, as she was named one of five semifinalists for the Coca-Cola America’s Future award. As a semifinalist, she will fly to Atlanta in September to tour the Coca-Cola facilities, participate in new-hire training, meet with executives and attend a day of the PGA’s TOUR Championship. Each of the semifinalists will receive a $1,000 scholarship, with the winner to receive $5,000.

Devane said she is most looking forward to reconnecting with two of the other semifinalists, which she met last summer at The First Tee Leadership and Lifeskills Academy in Long Island, N.Y.

“I already know a few of the kids who will be there from last summer,” she said. “I’m looking forward to seeing them again and to tour the Coke facilities. I’ve never been to Atlanta, so I’m looking forward to the whole experience.”

The application process consisted of three parts, a written essay, a chart that highlights each of Devane’s numerous volunteer and community involvement efforts, and a questionnaire filled out by Haney noting her involvement within The First Tee of Manhattan.

Devane is involved with her local youth group, volunteers at Mercy Regional Health Center as well as within The First Tee of Manhattan, where she got the chance to intern this summer. Devane’s school activities include various leadership camps, as well as serving as vice president of Manhattan High’s Business Professionals of America chapter. She’s also involved with the National Honor Society.

“If you look at most of the applications, it’s not necessarily based on what you’re doing within your First Tee chapter, though that is important,” Haney said. “There’s a chapter-level involvement form that we fill out. But it comes down to writing essays that are judged, and also their community activities and involvement.”

Haney noted the extreme competitiveness for this scholarship, as well as the stringent list of qualifications to be eligible, make the win that much more special.

“This is one of their top participant opportunities that you can apply for,” Haney said. “There were only 43 teenagers that applied within the entire First Tee network, and we’re talking millions of kids that are in a certifying program. So for her to apply and be one of five selected and get the chance to go to the Coca-Cola headquarters and meet with some of the top Coca-Cola executives, who knows what this will do for her future. And she has a bright future.”

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