Hi Everyone! Since this week is an "off" week, I wanted to share with all of you something that has been very important to me and close to my heart for the past five years. When I entered USC, my father had a lot more time on his hands, so he decided to partner up with PGA Pro Jerry Herrera to establish a unique junior golf program to give back to the community. The San Gabriel Valley consists of several cities that have great qualities, but there are others that are not as fortunate, so my father's goal was to introduce golf to those areas where it isn't exposed enough. With the help of Jerry, they spread the word the old-fashioned way by handing out flyers to countless parks and recreational centers. Although the junior program is located in my hometown of Azusa, California, they decided to name it the "San Gabriel Junior Golf Program" to represent the surrounding neighborhoods. Due to NCAA restrictions, I wasn't able to be as involved with the program as I wished, so I would only stop by as a guest once every couple of weeks. At first there were only 10-20 kids per class, but now, five years later, we have 30-40 students!! SGJG is a non-profit organization that reaches out to kids from all ethnic backgrounds and provides youth with the opportunity to learn a game of a lifetime and develop life-long skills that will help and nurture self esteem and confidence. SGJG also fosters a sense of belonging, competitive influence, and usefulness. Our purpose is to keep youth active and away from negative influences!
Because my father understands how difficult it was for our family on the financial side of the game, SGJG decided to charge only $1 per child per session. These kids meet up year-round on Tuesday nights from 5-7 p.m. It's amazing to see how passionate these kids are about learning. They come prepared whether it's sunny, windy, raining, or cold outside. Once I graduated from USC, I felt like it was life's calling for me to step into the organization and become a coach and a board member because I see myself when I see these kids. Plus, it was another way to get more USC fans! Haha.
Not only does the SGJG expose youth to the game of golf, but also we bring in guest speakers from other forms of exciting hobbies and sports such as martial arts, archery, fencing, and marine biology. As I learned throughout my career at USC, fitness and nutrition is very important to an athlete, so I personally take the kids through a pre-class exercise routing for about 10 minutes just to get their blood flowing and to make golf a little more fun. Since our other goal is to get these kids to college, education has become another main focus, so this year we brought in an academic tutor that will work with juniors on their homework in the clubhouse for a certain amount of time and then return to their golf session.
This program is still very young, but I have no doubt that it has the capability to expand. My ultimate dream is to establish a scholarship named the LILY scholarship, (nickname that was given to me while at USC). Visit our website for more info - www.sangabrieljuniorgolf.org. For me, charity starts at home, and the kids are awesome. Some of them even came to show support at the KIA Classic and the Kraft Nabisco Championship. I thank them because they are also my motivation to be the best player I can be. If I could live my dream playing on the LPGA tour, there's no reason why any child can't do the same.
So now you guys know a little more about me and what I do other than travel and play competitively. Hope you all had a Happy Easter! Fight On!