New local YMCA youth golf program has lesson going beyond the sport

Tim Allen, the sports director at the Parkview Huntington Family YMCA, pauses for a moment from sorting through equipment for the YMCA’s new youth golf program, which he will be organizing. The program, called DRIVE, was created by The First Tee, a sports organization that seeks to interest youth in golf
Tim Allen, the sports director at the Parkview Huntington Family YMCA, pauses for a moment from sorting through equipment for the YMCA’s new youth golf program, which he will be organizing. The program, called DRIVE, was created by The First Tee, a sports organization that seeks to interest youth in golf Photo by Steve Clark.

The Parkview Huntington Family YMCA will soon start offering a youth golf program.

While one of the goals will be to teach the fundamentals of golf to children between the ages of 6 and 8, there will also be another, more important goal for the program, says Tim Allen, its organizer.

“It does introduce the game of golf to kids, but it is really, honestly, more about teaching good conduct and behavior and etiquette and manners and, honestly, how you treat people,” he says.

The program is called DRIVE, which stands for “Develops Rewarding Inspiring Values for Everyone.” It was created by The First Tee, a sports organization that seeks to interest youth in playing golf. Beyond introducing the sport to children, The First Tee strives to teach them good behaviors, which it refers to as its Nine Core Values: respect, courtesy, responsibility, honesty, sportsmanship, confidence, judgment, perseverance and integrity.

In April, Allen was approached by Jeanie Schilling, of Huntington, who was interested in seeing the YMCA become an affiliate of The First Tee.

“It’s a lifelong sport that I think just fits in with the Y,” she says.

Allen, who works as the YMCA’s sports director, was enthusiastic about the idea.

“It really did make sense for us to be involved and to do what we could to be a part of it,” he says.

It wasn’t long before Schilling took the next step. She made a donation to the YMCA, which enabled it to purchase all the materials it needed to become a chapter of The First Tee.

For Schilling, the donation had personal significance. Her husband, Jay, passed away in 2013 and she believes The First Tee’s DRIVE program is something he would have supported.

“We were avid golfers. He was good; I was just there,” she says with a chuckle. “That was a big part of our marriage.”

Schilling’s donation furnished the YMCA with dozens of special golf clubs and golf balls, hitting targets, an instructional manual and more.

Allen, a longtime golfer who coaches the sport at Crestview Middle School and, before that, the former Huntington College, says stepping up to lead the program was an easy decision for him.

“I’ve been involved with the game for a long time and I’m also involved in youth sports, obviously, so it really sort of made some sense,” he states.

Allen notes the program will be held in the YMCA’s gym, with the potential to venture outward to area golf courses once the program’s attendees reach a certain level of proficiency.

“Our goal through the DRIVE program is to introduce the game, introduce the rules, introduce some fun concepts on how you get kids to understand that and then work with your green-grass courses to take them there,” he explains. “So, it really is a progressive thing, to take them from indoors, where we can control the environment, we can control a lot of things.”

Allen has not set a start date yet for the program, but hopes to get it underway in September, with sessions occurring once a week in the evenings. There will be a nominal fee to participate.

As excited as Schilling is for children in the area to learn the sport that she and her husband enjoyed so much, she’s equally looking forward to them picking up on the sportsmanlike behavior that both the DRIVE program and the YMCA strive to impart.

“I think the First Tree program and the Y are going to be a very good fit,” she says.

It’s a sentiment Allen echoes.

“It’s nice to be part of things that are successful,” he says, “and we’re pretty sure that this First Tree program is going to be very successful.”

For more information about the program, contact Allen at the YMCA at 359-9622 or tim.allen@huntingtony.org.