A New Series: First Tee Features

First Tee – Connecticut Features highlight individuals impacted by the organization’s mission to empower kids and teens through the game of golf.

February 2024: PJ Cavaliere, a senior at Villanova, reflects on his fifteen-year transformative journey with First Tee – Connecticut. From learning valuable life skills as a young student in group lessons to honing leadership skills as a scholar in First Tee’s National Ace Program, PJ credits First Tee – Connecticut with his success and perspective on life.

PJ Cavaliere: An ACE Program Scholar Reflects on his First Tee – Connecticut Story

In the world of golf, achieving an “Ace” is a moment of triumph, a combination of skill, dedication and a touch of luck. For PJ Cavaliere, a 21-year-old senior at Villanova, his journey with First Tee – Connecticut has been an ace of its own kind, a transformative experience that goes beyond the greens.

PJ’s connection with First Tee spans an impressive 15 years, shaping his character and providing invaluable life lessons both on and off the golf course. Hailing from Marlborough, PJ’s involvement in First Tee began at the behest of his parents, who saw the potential for growth and development in their sons through early exposure to golf.

As he stands on the cusp of graduation from Villanova, PJ reflects on the profound impact First Tee – Connecticut has had on his life. “First Tee has been more than just a golf program; it’s been a guide to navigating life’s challenges,” PJ shares. “The values I’ve learned—respect, honesty and integrity—are not just for the golf course; they’re for life.”

PJ’s journey took an exciting turn when he became part of First Tee National’s Ace Capstone Program. Ace is designed for teens like PJ, offering a multi-layered approach that integrates skills and inner strengths developed through First Tee chapters. It serves as a game-plan for the future, guiding participants toward exploration, investment and the creation of a clear plan for what comes next.

“The Ace experience allowed me to delve deeper into life skills,” PJ notes. “It’s not just about golf; it’s about applying these skills to real-life scenarios. The program has been instrumental in shaping my perspective and preparing me for the challenges beyond college.”

The Ace program’s eligibility criteria, which included a minimum age of 14 or entering high school, a three-year commitment to First Tee – Connecticut and a readiness assessment by the chapter, highlight the dedication required. For PJ, meeting these criteria was a testament to his unwavering commitment to personal and skill development.

PJ will work at Travelers upon graduation and emphasizes the significance of the Ace program in honing essential life skills. “Teaching golf to others through volunteering and coaching has given me a deeper understanding of the game,” he says. “These skills are not just beneficial on the golf course but are directly applicable to life and my career.”

PJ has been actively involved in giving back to the community through volunteering and coaching for First Tee – Connecticut. He finds fulfillment in sharing his knowledge and experiences with others, reinforcing the idea that the time commitment to First Tee – Connecticut is reasonable and the rewards are immeasurable.

Encouraging individuals of all ages to engage with First Tee – Connecticut, PJ highlights the program’s unique ability to blend golf, life skills and community engagement. “First Tee provides a holistic experience that goes beyond golf swings and putting,” he asserts. “It’s about building character, fostering a sense of community, and realizing the positive impact one can make.”

As PJ looks toward the future, he carries with him the resilience, integrity and leadership skills instilled by First Tee – Connecticut. His journey serves as a testament to the program’s ability to mold not just skilled golfers but empowered individuals ready to navigate the challenges of life beyond the green.

January 2024: Paige McKenna’s journey with First Tee – Connecticut is a compelling narrative of growth, leadership, and passion. Her story echoes the organization’s mission of instilling life skills through the game of golf, leaving an indelible mark on the Fairfield community and beyond. As Paige looks forward to inspiring the next generation, she embodies the spirit of First Tee – Connecticut: building not just skilled golfers, but resilient, confident, and compassionate individuals ready to make a positive impact on the world.

Paige McKenna: A Journey of Growth, Leadership, and Passion with First Tee – Connecticut

In the heart of vibrant Fairfield, Conn., one individual’s journey stands out as a testament to the transformative power of First Tee – Connecticut. Paige McKenna is a remarkable young woman whose story intertwines with the core values and impactful programs of First Tee.

Paige’s connection with First Tee began at the tender age of 7, a pivotal point where her journey in golf and life skills education took root. What started as a simple introduction to golf evolved into a profound love for the organization, shaped by the innovative and engaging coaching methods that made learning not only fun but also deeply impactful.

Reflecting on her early experiences, Paige shares, “First Tee wasn’t just about golf for me. It was about the interesting ways the coaches taught me, making every lesson an adventure. They weren’t just teaching me how to swing a club; they were instilling values that would shape who I am becoming.”

First Tee goes beyond conventional golf instruction; it’s a holistic approach to youth development, imparting essential life skills and leadership qualities. Paige emphasizes, “I’ve learned everything from how to be a leader to giving a firm, confident handshake. The coaches teach us about respect and many qualities that we can carry with us as we grow older.”

One of the defining moments in Paige’s journey was her participation in the First Tee Innovators Forum in Jacksonville, Fla. This unique experience allowed her to collaborate on a project aimed at engaging more girls in golf, showcasing the organization’s commitment to inclusivity. Paige reflects on this opportunity, saying, “Being part of the Innovators Forum was eye-opening. It taught me not to fear failure and ignited a passion for golf and helping people.”

First Tee, with its dedicated volunteers, creates an environment where learning extends beyond the golf course. Paige fondly recalls, “The volunteers make it fun. They bring so much energy and positivity to every session. It’s not just about golf; it’s about teaching us valuable life skills and leadership qualities that we can apply in any situation.”

Looking ahead, Paige envisions herself giving back to the community that has played a pivotal role in her development. She plans to volunteer in golf lessons specifically designed for girls, with a mission to inspire and empower them. “I want to share the joy of golf and the valuable lessons I’ve learned at First Tee with other girls. It’s about creating a space where they feel confident, supported and ready to take on any challenge.”