Coach Bill Awarded 2020 Heart of First Tee

The Tom and Melissa Briner Heart of First Tee – GCNKY Award recognizes individuals, companies, parents, coaches, volunteers, or staff who embody the “Heart” of the First Tee through giving of time, talent or treasure; by demonstrating and living one of First Tee Core Values; or by going above and beyond to promote or further our missions. Typically nominations are given in the fall and we announce the winners at our year end celebration. This year our presentations were a little different but we had fun surprising participant, Henry Metzel, with this award in December and last month we tricked our other 2020 winner in order to present him with this award.

We are excited to award Bill Donaldson the 2020 Heart of First Tee – GCNKY Award. Bill has been a long time golf instructor for our program. Last month, we asked Bill to be our mission moment at a meeting for staff and board members. Armed with his huge smile and sense of humor, he took us down memory lane. From his history with First Tee to the growth of our chapter, he has been with us through it all. But he mostly wanted to talk about the kids and the potential he sees in each one of them. When asked about how he feels about First Tee he responded with, “Family. It feels like a big hug.”

The comments by those who nominated him for this honor echoed what he shared with us that evening. “Coach Bill has had quite an impact on my son as a positive community member but also as an amazing teacher on the tee and on the course. He has helped instill life long skills, the ability to laugh while being competitive and the ability to recognize when he is doing something well….even if there’s much room for improvement. Any golfer knows how humbling the sport can be and Coach Bill motivates the kids to keep trying to improve while having fun and recognizing their progress. Even when we bump into him at the practice range, he remembers my son’s name, gets an update on his high school team and we feel a part of the organization.”

Bill has touched countless youth in our community through his work with us at First Tee, his work with our outreach programs and the Tony Yates Program  as well as his day job with Cincinnati Public Schools. Coach Bill believes in these kids and wants the best for them but doesn’t give them a free pass. His time in the military brings a bit of disciple to his style of teaching but he is all heart.
       Alumna and now a First Tee Coach, Libby Chamberlin, explained in a college essay how the full swing component of certification to the Eagle level of First Tee was challenging but that she developed perseverance and confidence with the help of Coach Bill. “Coach Bill, really helped me by staying at the range with me for hours trying to figure out how to overcome my mental roadblock. I wanted to certify so desperately that I was unable to focus on the shot at hand and stay in the moment. Coach Bill continued to help me by giving my swing little tweaks and helping me practice. Swing after swing he stayed with me, the sun beating down on us, as he helped me tweak my swing and pushed me towards my goal. He showed me that the mechanics of my swing were there, I just needed to relax and believe in myself. I can still hear his encouraging words on the range, “stay relaxed and trust your swing” before every shot. This message really resonated with me and continues to guide me today,” says Libby. Her mom added in her nomination for Coach Bill, “(Libby) really does lean on the words “Trust It” in all aspects of her life. Coach Bill believed in her long before she could believe in herself. We all need someone like this in our lives. She was so lucky to have him.”  And we are lucky to have Bill for the past 15 years.
Congratulations Coach Bill! We look forward to many more years of your guidance and encouragement.