Fore! Greeley foundation chipping away at introducing golf to local youth
, 2023-05-20 07:00:49,
Students at three Greeley-Evans schools this year were introduced to golf in physical education classes, and there is a chance the program used by the K-8 students could expand to the city of Greeley for junior players.
This spring, and including the final days of the school year, students at S. Christa McAuliffe S.T.E.M. Academy, Tointon Academy of Pre-Engineering and Winograd K-8 School learned about golf in school using a beginner instruction kit from SNAG Golf.
SNAG, Starting New At Golf, is a program to teach golf to people of all ages and ability levels, according to the website of the Oklahoma-based company. The SNAG kits, containing clubs, brightly colored balls resembling a tennis ball but smaller, and devices to teach the swing, are also portable, allowing for use in a school gym or outside.
“It introduces them to an activity or sport they may not do in their own lives,” said John Paxton, a longtime McAuliffe physical education teacher who’s played golf for about 40 years. “It gives the kids an opportunity to learn the game of golf using things to help them be successful early.”
SNAG swung into District 6 through the advocacy of Greeley residents John and Amy Lee in memory of their son, Michael, who was an accomplished scholastic, collegiate and state-level amateur golfer.
Mike Lee died in December 2020 at age 28 from complications of COVID-19.
A 2010 Greeley Central graduate, Lee played for the Wildcats and went on to compete for Division II Colorado School of Mines. At Mines, he was a team captain, a two-time Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Player of the Year and a Division II honorable mention All-American selection.
Through the Michael Ray Lee Foundation established by family and friends more than two years ago, the Lees donated $10,500 to District 6 to purchase three SNAG kits. Each kit costs $3,500.
John and Amy Lee said they recently heard from coaches about a dearth of youth golfers in Greeley. The Lees then thought about how they could introduce the game to kids, who might one day have an interest in playing high school golf.
They took their idea to District 6 leaders including Superintendent Deirdre Pilch, high school golf coaches and Bill Fearn, curriculum coordinator for secondary education and K-12 specials.
Fearn said in an email an important component of physical education is to encourage students to be “lifelong movers.”
“Since golf is a sport that people can play at any age, it was a natural fit for…
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