Two local teens from the First Tee® of the Coachella Valley were selected among hundreds of applicants to attend the organization’s national events. Dana Condon (17) of Palm Desert and Caroline Wales (14) of La Quinta will join more than 90 junior golfers (ages 14 – 17) from across the country at The First Tee® Life Skills and Leadership Academy in East Lansing, Michigan, July 26 – August 1. Condon is also one of 24 elite junior golfers selected by a national panel of judges to attend The First Tee® College Golf Prep Academy in West Palm Beach, Florida, July 11 – 18.
These programs will further prepare both for, not only a future in golf, but also important life lessons. The Leadership Academy provides valuable character education and leadership instruction; attendees develop and hone skills to become leaders in their local First Tee® chapters, schools, and communities while experiencing championship golf, career exploration and dorm living at host Michigan State University.
Both young players are eager to learn, and even more excited about meeting other players from across the country. “I’m looking forward to meeting other participants and seeing what they have learned so I can share it with my local First Tee® chapter,” said Condon in an interview with Desert Health®. The 4.0 student who has been playing since she was seven will be a senior next year and hopes to attend a Division II or III college and to major in education. Her experience at the college prep academy which includes 18 to 36 holes a day, as well as team building activities and education, is certain to help prepare her for life as a collegiate athlete.
Wales, who will attend Palm Desert High in the fall, is also a regional all-round gymnastics champion which she feels really helps her game. “Gymnastics helps with golf fitness including distance, balance and flexibility,” she says, adding that her nutrition choices do the same. “In gymnastics, you can really feel what you eat, so I taught myself what is healthiest to eat.” She cuts down on sweets and always tries to eat good protein, like grilled chicken, with vegetables. She is gluten, dairy, and egg-free and gets her carbs from alternatives such as chick pea pasta, overnight oats, and fruit. “I eat small meals throughout the day and love bell peppers, carrots and sweet potatoes.” Wales hopes to obtain a Division I golf scholarship before going on to play in the LPGA.
Both players have also applied to play in the First Tee® program at the Pure Insurance Championship at Pebble Beach in September and will learn if they receive this honor in July.
The First Tee® is a wonderful program for young people and teaches much more beyond the game of golf. In speaking with both Condon and Wales, it is easy to see that they are both inspiring examples of the organization’s core values, as well as the sport.
Encouraging others to join, Condon adds, “The First Tee® is a lot of fun. Bring a friend along, but if not, everyone there is very friendly and it’s easy to make new friends. It’s not all about the grind of golf; it’s about interacting with other people and having fun at the same time.”
2018 UPDATE: Caroline Wales was selected to play in the Pure Insurance Championship at Pebble Beach which will air on the Golf Channel September 28-30. Way to go, Caroline!
To learn more about The First Tee® of the Coachella Valley, visit TheFirstTeeCoachellaValley.org or call (760) 779.1877.