Riley Yount: First Tee – Greater San Antonio ACE Participant

My name is Riley Yount. I just turned fifteen and I will be a sophomore this fall. I just recently certified to the highest participant level the First Tee offers. I am officially an ACE level participant. I have been with the First Tee for EIGHT years! What is your favorite accomplishment in golf so far? There have been so many favorite accomplishments in golf for me but some that really stand out are winning the individual and team middle school district championships in 2019 and winning the individual and team state TCSAAL middle school championships in 2018. More recently, I was excited to letter in Varsity Golf as a freshman and play in every school varsity tournament.  In the last week, I posted my three lowest competition golf scores ever- so improving my golf game is definitely my favorite accomplishment! What has your First Tee experience been? My First Tee experience has been beyond AMAZING. The First Tee has helped me grow my golf game but it has also helped me in all areas of my life. I have learned to be a better leader and a better student. I have made life-long friends, and it has helped me to truly understand the importance of building a “GO TO TEAM” for my life. I have also had many wonderful opportunities that I am so grateful for. I filmed a First Tee National PSA with PGA Pro Jimmy Walker (who I see every year at the Valero Texas Open and says “there’s my co-star” every time – so cool). I have also taken a First Tee group picture with the Valero Texas Open Champion for the last four or five years- which has become a very cool tradition for me. I hope to still take a pic with this year’s VTO champion Jordan Spieth (we missed it due to Covid).  I also had some national playing opportunities including a National First Tee Tournament in New Orleans in 2019, and the opportunity to play in the First Annual National Youth Hickory Sticks Tournament in Austin Texas earlier in 2021. I also had the privilege of representing our local chapter in the First Annual First Tee Game Changers Cup in late 2020 sponsored by PGA Pro Abraham Ancer. Our team captain was another PGA tour player, Bobby Diaz, who I have kept in touch with and has become a mentor to me. But the greatest opportunity so far I think has been the honor to be selected as a member of the inaugural National First Tee Participant Council. Through this national opportunity, I am able to use my voice to represent San Antonio and Texas with National First Tee leadership! I will be attending our first in person meeting this month in Florida where I will have the opportunity to meet the National First Tee CEO Greg McLaughlin. I have also been told we will get to play a round of golf at TPC Sawgrass! A dream come true. SO as you can see, my First Tee experience has been phenomenal, and I am truly grateful for all of the opportunities it has given me over the years. I am so appreciative of all the First Tee staff who have impacted my life in so many ways. I am especially grateful for First Tee of Greater San Antonio Executive Director, Carrie Kimbell; program director Greg Klemm and program coordinator Brittany Taylor (I am just getting to know our new program manager MJ Resendis and program ambassador Vincent Kabaso). Their support and guidance have been instrumental in my continued participation and success with The First Tee of Greater San Antonio. What are some activities you like to do outside of school? My favorite activity outside of school is called FLOWRIDING. I “surf” on an artificial wave on a body board or a flow board and do “tricks.”  I compete and travel all over the country with this sport and have won three national championships in youth bodyboard and two in youth flowboard.  I also love to play football and soccer. I love traveling with my family (well pre-covid). First Tee has also given me the opportunity to volunteer as a Junior Golf Coach, and it has become one of my favorite activities. I especially love our “Tiny Tigers.” How did you get involved with the First Tee? I was lucky to get involved with the First Tee when I was six years old. I had attended my first Valero Texas Open and had become intrigued with the game of golf. We so happened to go ride the zoo train by the First Tee Polo Field shortly after, and we saw all these little kids playing golf. My parents and I immediately knew we had to go check it out! The First Tee Staff said I was too young and had to wait until I was seven… but I think we “snuck” in a little early since they did not check my driver’s license, lol. I was hooked and have been so lucky to have been a participant all these years. Between school and your activities how does First Tee aid in your success? I think First Tee has helped me in my overall success by giving me “structure” with some life skills processes. We all know the things to do….be better students, be better community leaders, etc., etc. but the First Tee Life Skills Program- I feel not only gave individual life skills specific names -but provided specific examples to each core value and lesson. By using golf as an example, it helped me solidify the meaning (and importance) of so many life lessons. When you are a little kid, some of these words are just that- words. You think you get it, but now I know sometimes you really don’t understand at first. First Tee helped me by relating life on the golf course (which came easy to me) to life out in the world! It also progressed as the years went by and the lessons built on one another and became even more relevant. I truly feel like the First Tee Core Values are the building blocks of my life now: Honesty, Integrity, Sportsmanship, Respect, Confidence, Responsibility, Perseverance, Courtesy, and Judgment. I draw upon them almost daily and they continue to help shape every aspect of who I am today. What are your future goals? My immediate goals are to do well in school, continue to contribute to my community with volunteer work and continue to grow my golf game. I would like to play collegiate golf at a D1 university (maybe LSU or Stanford?) and eventually make the PGA Tour. I am also interested in studying sports management or maybe landscape architecture focusing on golf course design.