While watching a PGA Tour event one Sunday, Chad Molander saw a commercial that really caught his attention – it was about First Tee. He’d always loved the game of golf and that well-placed commercial flipped a switch in him. He decided coaching is something he wanted to do and within a week he had a meeting with Executive Director, Jamie Alt.
Molander was no stranger to volunteering but he had never worked with kids. The more he learned about First Tee (coaching kids, teaching life skills and core values, along with golf), everything seemed to fall into place. After his first day of volunteering, he was “all in.”
Even with a busy work schedule as a Senior Compliance Specialist with Wells Fargo, he’s made time to coach at Warrior Run in Norwalk for the past five years and is extremely dependable. In fact, over the past five summers, Molander only had to miss four out of the 72 days he was scheduled to coach due to work or family obligations. He has passed First Tee training and is now a Certified Level I Coach which allows him to lead participant sessions. He is also a First Tee — Central Iowa board member. Yeah, we’d call that “all in.”
He appreciates that First Tee is not just about golf – it’s so much more. Molander explains, “I like that we teach the nine core values, which I work on incorporating into my own life. The kids are asked to study their booklets, take the end of session tests, be attentive to their coaches’ instructions, practice, and play if they’re going to advance to the next level. It’s up to them to put in the work. Not everyone ‘gets a trophy’ right away in First Tee – and that’s okay because sometimes life works that way.”
Molander recalls two kids who started in the program the same year he began coaching. “They had the potential and the golf ability, but they didn’t apply themselves enough to pass the tests. Last summer they came into the sessions focused and qualified to advance to the Birdie level.” After receiving their certificates, both made time to personally thank him for everything he had done for them over the years. “I realized this is why I’m a First Tee coach. This is what it’s all about. I had made a difference.”
On a personal note, Molander shares, “Being a coach for First Tee, in a way, saved me. I was going through a difficult time – looking for something to do – a way to give back. Becoming a coach allowed me to realize what people will do for others. Being part of an organization, surrounded by other board members and volunteer coaches, who care so much, and give so much of themselves to help others, has changed me. It helps me with my job, with my interaction with family and friends… it’s changed my perspective. Working with the kids gives me a sense of purpose. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”
We can’t thank Chad enough for his time and effort in caring for our participants and helping us create Game Changers.
If you’re interested in becoming a First Tee coach, contact our Program Director, Mikayla Olson at [email protected]