Springfield College Maintains Strong Partnership With The First Tee



At left, Ted France, Andrew
Kim, and Al Petitpas gather to discuss First Tee programs. Kim's school district in Texas uses the National School
Program from The First Tee in all of their elementary physical education programs.

Springfield College Associate Professor of Physical Education Thaddeus J. France recently joined golfing legend Arnold Palmer as one of the two individual recipients of the 2015 The First Tee Founder’s Award.  The award is given to individuals and organizations that have made outstanding contributions to The First Tee, a youth development organization that uses the game of golf as a platform to help youth acquire life skills, core values, and healthy habits.  Dr. France received his award during The First Tee 2015 Network Meeting recently held at the Hyatt Regency in Dallas, Texas. 

Springfield College’s long-standing involvement with The First Tee dates back to 1998 when Psychology Professor Al Petitpas served as a member of the development team that created the original life skills curriculum and Coach Education Program. In 2012, Springfield College Center for Youth Development and Research was selected to become the content provider for “Family,” one of The First Tee Nine Healthy Habits. This initiative contributed content and educational resources on topics such as the role parents can play in promoting academic and school engagement, communication skills and healthy family dynamics. The First Tee Nine Healthy Habits was created in collaboration with the ANNIKA Foundation and Florida Hospital for Children. World Golf Hall of Fame member Annika Sorenstam serves as spokesperson. The First Tee Nine Healthy Habits are energy, play, safety, vision, mind, family, friends, school and community.

Dr. France and Petitpas also organized and facilitated The First Tee Outstanding Participant Leadership Summit in which a select group of 28 youths from across The First Tee’s network of chapters and affiliates came together in Dallas to enhance their leadership skills and create strategies to address social problems that they identified in their local communities. This project is an extension of France and Petitpas’ collaboration to build a model for community-based youth development that connects in-school, after school, and summer learning programs in communities across the country.

The First Tee Program is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit youth development organization with a mission to impact the lives of young people by providing educational programs that build character, instilling life-enhancing values and promoting healthy choices through the game of golf. The First Tee reaches young people on golf courses, in elementary schools and at other youth-serving locations.

Since its inception in 1997, The First Tee has introduced the game of golf and its values to more than 10.5 million young people in all 50 United States and select international locations. The First Tee’s Founding Partners are LPGA, the Masters Tournament, PGA of America, PGA TOUR and the USGA. Shell Oil Company is The First Tee’s Founding Corporate Partner and Johnson & Johnson is its Legacy Partner. Former President George W. Bush serves as honorary chair.

Founded in 1885, Springfield College is known worldwide for the guiding principles of its Humanics philosophy—educating students in spirit, mind and body for leadership in service to others. With its foundation of academic excellence and rich athletic heritage, Springfield College prepares students with real-world leadership skills for careers that transform lives and communities. The college offers a range of undergraduate and graduate degree programs in the fields of health sciences, human and social services, sport management and movement studies, education, business, and the arts and sciences. It also offers doctoral programs in physical education, physical therapy, and counseling psychology. The college is ranked in the 2015 edition of “Best Colleges” in the top tier of “Best Regional Universities – North Region” by U.S.News and World Report, and is designated as a premier Leadership Development Center by the YMCA of the USA. More than 5,000 traditional, nontraditional and international students study at its main campus in Springfield, Mass., and at its School of Human Services campuses across the country.