Cataleya Panagoulopoulos: Faces of First Tee, February 2021

Cataleya Panagoulopoulos, Faces of First Tee portrait 2021Hi! I am Cataleya Panagoulopoulos, a 8 year old third grader at Audubon Charter School. I have a younger brother that drives me up the wall, ugh!! I have a very active life, as I love to dance, sing, take violin, play golf and act in my school play each semester. I am creative and love all types of art, but normally don’t really like sports. I don’t really do all that running around. I like things that require planning and strategy. Thats why I like to play board games with my dad, especially when I beat him. I play the game and look at the rules to find loopholes and a way to win. It takes careful thought and skill. That’s why I like golf, because it’s just like that. I like that it involves strategy, skill, and perseverance in order to succeed. Just like the science experiments I do at STEM camp, to get an experiment to work, you have to prepare and plan for what you’re doing, and make sure you follow the steps and do it right or it won’t work. As I have gotten to attend First Tee, the instructors have been teaching us how to play, and in the process have been teaching us about the Core Values that are important for success, not only in golf but in life too! The Nine Core values are honesty, integrity, confidence, courtesy, respect, responsibility, judgement, sportsmanship, and perseverance. I have been learning, and the more I practice and play, the better I have become lining up my shots and getting my drives closer to the hole each time. While I have a long, long way to go, I know that with practice, I will be able to succeed. While all the Core Values are important, for me the ones that I think about most are Confidence and Perseverance, because of all the ways they extend beyond golf. Sometimes, when I am getting ready to act out a new play or play a new song on my violin in front of people, I get a little nervous and worried about messing up in front of all those people. But then I remember all the work I have done practicing and working through the difficult parts, memorizing the lines or notes and their order, even when I get frustrated after messing up. By persevering and continuing to practice and work, I know my lines. Knowing my lines, it gives me confidence that I will be able to do it right in front of the audience. And with confidence, I can perform at my best! Faces of the First Tee portraits: New Orleans Snapshots by Andrew J. Cohoon

Adhrit Paragi: Faces of First Tee January 2021

Adhrit Paragi, Faces of First Tee January 2021 My name is Adhrit Paragi. I enjoy building Lego structures. Currently, I am building Ninjago City with Legos. I also enjoy playing with Lego coding projects. I am a PLAYER level participant in First Tee — Greater New Orleans program. The nine core values have instilled in me confidence and responsibility above all. The coaches at First Tee have encouraged me to think about the 9 core values and what they mean in everyday life – which I try to carry forward into everyday life. I like playing cricket in my backyard and that interest led me to explore golf. First Tee Summer Camps are the best because I like the games, field trips, swimming pool, golf, baseball games. I love spending time with my family. I am looking forward to baking with my family for the holidays and welcoming the New Year 2021. Faces of the First Tee portraits: New Orleans Snapshots by Andrew J. Cohoon

Ashley Biehl: Faces of First Tee December 2020

Ashley BiehlHi! My name is Ashley Biehl, and I am 11 years old. I am the youngest of four children and a 6th grader at St. Angela Merici. My hobbies are baking, cooking, writing, photography, sewing, and playing golf. I am a birdie participant in the First Tee of Greater New Orleans. The First Tee has taught me so many different things. One of these things that they have taught me is the importance of the 9 core values. These 9 core values are honesty, integrity, confidence, courtesy, respect, responsibility, judgement, sportsmanship, and perseverance. My favorite core value is perseverance. This core value has taught me to never give up, even when you have a tough challenge you have to face. One tough challenge I have had to face is being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. Type 1 Diabetes has been a struggle, but with all the support I have, I know that I am unstoppable! Even though Type 1 Diabetes has its disadvantages, I have learned a lot from my experience with it. Something I have learned with my experience with Type 1 Diabetes is to never give up. Persevering can be hard, especially when you don’t know what to do when you are facing obstacles in your life. Type 1 Diabetes has been a very hard obstacle because I have to check my blood sugar, give myself insulin, and watch what I eat every day. I know I have the support from my friends and family to overcome this challenge. I am fearless! Type 1 Diabetes has also given me a lot of opportunity to do things that I may not have been able to do before. I have been able to speak to my entire school about my experiences with Type 1 Diabetes and what it is in order to raise money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). I have also been able to talk to U.S. House of Representatives Minority Whip, Steve Scalise’s associate to bring awareness about diabetes for federal funding and the benefits of the JDRF’s research. I was in the top ten for raising money for the JDRF One Walk this year and last year. All these experiences have shown me that I can do anything as long as I put my mind to it and that having Type 1 Diabetes can’t stop me from becoming the person I want to be or doing the things I want to do. I am limitless! The First Tee, the game of golf, and my experience with Type 1 Diabetes have all shown me to persevere through my challenges. Playing the game of golf shows me that some things are unpredictable, just like diabetes can be. Each of these things has shown me that I am limitless, fearless, and unstoppable. Faces of the First Tee portraits: New Orleans Snapshots by Andrew J. Cohoon

Brant W. R. Walterman: Faces of the First Tee November 2020

Brant J. R. Walterman portrait by Andrew J CohoonHi!  My name is Brant W. R. Walterman.  I’m eleven years old and in fifth grade.  I started playing golf with First Tee when I was six, and it is the only sport I’ve ever really enjoyed.  So far, the driving range is my favorite activity.  I’m super tall, so that helps me hit the ball really far.  Golf has helped me learn to keep trying when I get frustrated and to concentrate on my goals.  I love getting to hang out with my First Tee friends every Saturday on the golf course. When I grow up, I want to be an Astrophysicist and a Composer.  I’ve been fascinated by space since I can remember.  I love to stay up late and use my telescope to look at the stars.   Hopefully, someday, I’ll get to travel somewhere with less light pollution so that I can see the sky as clearly as it appears in a planetarium.  I also love music.  I started begging to play piano after I saw one at my great-grandma’s house when I was two.  I’ve studied piano since I was three and have been composing my own music since I was eight.  For the past two years, I’ve had the opportunity to perform pieces I’ve written at my recitals, and once, I even took over a piano in a coffee shop.  They gave me free cookies for playing them my song.  Someday, I hope to write amazing music like my favorite composers, Beethoven and John Williams. Faces of the First Tee portraits: New Orleans Snapshots by Andrew J. Cohoon

Nina Edgecombe: Faces of the First Tee October 2020

Portrait of Nina EdgecombeHi, my name is Nina Edgecombe. I am 8 years old, and in the 3rd grade. I have been in the First Tee program for three years now. I wanted to learn to play golf because my Dad plays golf. I like all the fun activities during First Tee lessons, such as Sharks and Minnows and Pokemon chipping. I also think the Play Days are really fun. I like the Play Days because you get to play holes on an actual golf course and explore it. I am looking forward to being a Junior Coach in First Tee when I’m older because I could show other kids how much fun golf is. I also like to play the piano and tug of war with my dog. A way that playing piano is like playing golf is piano is fun playing both fast and slow, and so is golf—you have to hit the golf ball fast and thinking about how to hit it and getting set up is slow. They both take a lot of practice. Faces of the First Tee portraits: New Orleans Snapshots by Andrew J. Cohoon

Hunter McDermott: Faces of the First Tee September 2020

Hunter McDermott, Face of the First Tee September 2020My name is Hunter McDermott. I am 13 years old and live in Harvey, LA with my mom, dad, and younger brother. This fall I am starting high school and going into 8th grade at Brother Martin High School in New Orleans. I am looking forward to joining the Brother Martin golf team. When I’m not on the golf course, I enjoy playing other sports as well such as football, basketball, and baseball. Besides my love of sports, I also enjoy going fishing and hunting too! I first started playing golf when I was just 4 years old. My mom asked me if I wanted to take swimming lessons and I responded by stating that I wanted to take golf lessons instead. I have been playing golf ever since. I compete in many different golf tournaments throughout the year which include the US Kids Golf Tour, Kelly Gibson Junior Tour, and USSSA Junior Tour. When I’m not competing, I attend weekly First Tee classes. I have been a part of the First Tee for quite a few years now and am currently in the Eagle class. I enjoy going out and practicing my golf skills with my dad and younger brother, Gavin who is also a junior golfer. My brother and I have fun competing against each other in a fun sibling rivalry. I have met a lot of new friends on the golf course and enjoy spending time with them both on and off the course! Photography: New Orleans Snapshots by Andrew J. Cohoon

Kayla Andrus: Faces of the First Tee August 2020

As a beginner I was intimidated learning to play golf and later competing in tournaments. The more I practiced, the more my confidence grew. I joined the golf team at Mount Carmel Academy in my sophomore year. With hard work and perseverance, I became captain my senior year. One of the first core values I learned in the First Tee, is to stay Optimistic of the potential future results regardless of the current situation. This is a value I will take with me this upcoming first year of college at Loyola University, where I will be the newest player on their golf team. As far as I can remember, I have always been amazed at what happens behind the scenes of my favorite TV shows and movies. There is a certain beauty to telling stories through the eyes of a photographer or filmmaker’s lens. So, naturally when I started high school, I fully emerged myself into all things film and photography. For the past 5 years I devoted myself to producing, directing, editing, photographing memorable moments in my high school sporting events, masses, plays and news segments. It was then I realized my passion for life was to become a movie director/producer. Throughout my two journeys, I have learned to incorporate the many core values, inspired from First Tee, one being sportsmanship. I have met many great photographers and filmmakers whom I respect and have opened many doors for me. I found the film and photography community in New Orleans to be extremely supportive. Many of my mentors have invited me on movie sets and photo shoots to film behind the scenes footage or stand as a production assistant. At 16, I earned my certification in adobe photoshop and adobe premier pro which allows me to edit photos and video. This certification led to my collaborative work with New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans Video Access Center with personal assistance from Sundance film festival artists Garrett Bradley to create my First independence short film “kinks!” Another one of my creations is a book published and written by New Orleans Youth from 826! New Orleans. Each of the stories in this book have been centered around photos I took from scenes around the city. I was amazed how they turned my photos into stories in a book titled “Don’t Open That Door”. At 17, I was given the opportunity to be one of the youngest photo editors to work for the 25th annual Essence Festival hosted in New Orleans. My past work history has proven to others my ability to be responsible, reliable and honest with the capacity to make good judgements. This landed me a job working backstage with all access passes to interviews, concerts, keynote speakers, and lounges including being in the presence of our former First Lady Michelle Obama. An honor I will never forget. Another memorable honor was receiving press clearance on Mardi Gras Day to capture our Mayor Latoya Cantrell toasting Mardi Gras crews as they passed by Gallier Hall. In my strive to continue giving back to the community, I offer many nonprofit organizations services free of charge. One in particular I am especially proud of, is Geaux Girl magazine. I am currently a board member and have had the pleasure of shooting a cover photo for this amazing nonprofit magazine run by girls for girls. Here I am able to have a voice for other young girls such as myself and I get the opportunity to interview locals and nationwide stars. This experience pushes me to continue to give back to the community and stay humble and kind. As a videographer, I recently conducted interviews on the red carpet with incoming local, state and city representatives at the New Orleans Annual Special Needs Ball. I also interviewed many of the special needs guests and their families asking the question, what does this special needs ball mean to them? Their answers touched my heart, it was an experience that will forever change the way I view someone with special needs. I also am a Youth Ambassador for the New Orleans Museum of Art. Here, I work together with museum artists, curators and staff members creating programs geared towards expanding the world of art for teens. In all my accomplishments I’m satisfied knowing I have made such an impact on others life, but my goal is to continue working towards making the future better. It is this drive and determination that the First Tee has helped to build within me. The biggest lesson that resonated with me from photography is that fundamental understanding of it. With “Photo” meaning “light” and ”graphy” meaning “to draw” the practice of photography is to draw with light. I’ve taken that lesson to heart, remembering to always find the light and draw it out of every situation. Faces of the First Tee portraits: New Orleans Snapshots by Andrew J. Cohoon

Snapshots from our stay-at-home spring

At First Tee, we talk a lot about what golf has to teach us about life. It teaches us patience with ourselves, because we’re not going to master every skill right away. It teaches us patience with others, because we share the green. We learn perseverance in the face of bad weather, bad moods, and just plain off days. And we learn the importance of sportsmanship and teamwork as we support each other to each play our own best game. 2020 has called on those lessons and more as the Greater New Orleans community has come together to stay apart and stay safe. That meant a big change in our spring plans! We were sad to cancel our spring sessions, but our coaches got creative and came up with some great distance learning options. Nothing beats being together in person, but connecting virtually each week brought smiles to our faces. “We were extremely impressed with our participants’ engagement in Backyard Links over the past six weeks,” says coach Brad Cooney. “The boys and girls were very creative when completing our assigned activities at home. We would like to thank all the participants, parents and coaches that made this online program possible. Our staff believes it was a huge success and cannot wait to see the kids back on the course this summer!” It was a joy getting all the videos and photos our golfers sent in. Here are just a few!

James Fisher: Faces of the First Tee April 2020

My name is James Fisher and I’m so happy to be part of the First Tee.  I’ve been in the program for the last 3 years and I’ve been playing golf with my dad since I was 5.  I’m 13 years old now and in the 8th grade at JD Miesler Middle School in Metairie.  One of the things I like the most about the First Tee is that it’s helped my connect with the city in a way that I couldn’t have done with out it.  My mom and I moved here from Milwaukee 3 years ago and while I visited every summer (because my dad lived here) the First Tee has helped me make new friends outside of school. Outside of golf I love basketball and playing video games.  My favorite teams are the Lakers and the Pelicans.  I enjoy playing video games like NBA2K, Spiderman and The Division.  Another thing that I’m really looking forward too is helping my little sister Alex learn how to play golf.  Because my dad is one of my First Tee coaches I think it’s going to be really cool to continue in the program with him and my little sister next year. Faces of the First Tee portraits: New Orleans Snapshots by Andrew J. Cohoon

Ella Joseph: Faces of the First Tee March 2020

Hi my name is Ella B. Joseph, and I love to play golf and bake with my mom. I was first introduced to First Tee by my cousin Eddie IV. Tiger Woods once said, ”No matter how good you get you can always get better and that’s the exciting part.” The more I practice golf, the better I get. I’m currently working on getting better at hitting the ball so my mom usually takes me to the driving range every weekend to practice.   As much as I enjoy going to the driving range on the weekends, I also love helping my mom with her cake orders. When I grow up I want to be a baker like my mom and have my own bakery. The more I learn about the Nine Core Values in golf, the more I apply them to my dream of owning a bakery. For instance, in First Tee, I have learned to have confidence and perseverance in myself and my work product while on the golf course as well as in the kitchen. Sometimes I may not get all of my balls to go in the intended place while at the driving range but I still believe in myself and believe that if I continue to work hard, I will be able to hit all of my balls to the furthest target at the driving range.  When I started to help my mom in the kitchen I didn’t know how to follow recipes or how to make figures out of fondant but I continued to have confidence in myself and persevered and now I can bake sweet potato pies by myself and make several fondant toppers. I have the confidence that I will be able to make beautiful cakes like my mom when I get a little older.

Cristiano Windham: Faces of the First Tee February 2020

My name is Cristiano Windham and I’m 7 years old.  If you see me around you may think I’m 10 because I’m a big boy who seems to be taking after my dad in height.  I have tried a few sports my parents put me in and did not love them.  Then as most parents do, they moved on to another sport for me to try. I started golf when I was 5 1/2 and have always enjoyed golf. While I love golf, I have since tried and love basketball and flag football as well.  Since I was in nursery, I have always said I wanted to be a builder or inventor when I grew up.  I take a strong interest in STEM type activities. At Christian Brothers where I attend school, my favorite class is Project Lead The Way (PLTW).  PLTW involves experiments, building, testing and engineering type activities. Now let’s go back to December of 2018, I was chosen to be the JUDGEMENT core value award winner at the golf banquet; I was absolutely thrilled and claimed it was the best day ever!  I am an extremely focused child who works hard and is very goal driven.  These core values I learn in golf carry over to my other activities in life.  I have set a goal to be the recipient of all the other core value awards as well.  Even though I have found other activities I enjoy since starting golf, I still remain focused on keeping golf on my schedule.  I love First Tee and the experiences I have had so far.  Meeting professional golfers at Zurich Classic and caddying for them was super cool for a kid my age I’d say.  I’m sure glad my parents found a good fit for me in golf because it sure has been more than just golf…! Faces of the First Tee portraits: New Orleans Snapshots by Andrew J. Cohoon

Vicky Stephens: Faces of the First Tee January 2020

January 7, 2020 – Albert Einstein once said, “If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music.” In the same way as Albert Einstein, if I were not a golfer, I would probably be a musician.  Although I am better known as a golfer, music has been a colossal part of my life, even before I picked up a golf club.  Music started to become a very important part of my life and help me grow as a person during my early childhood. Being taught an abundance of Spanish nursery rhymes as a toddler, I took an interest in music. I loved the way music could boost my mood at any moment and could move my feet at ease. I was fortunate enough to be raised bilingual and I was able to be exposed to both American music and Latin American music, with a specific focus on Argentine culture. Later on in life, I moved to Houston, Texas and Barranquilla, Colombia. During this time music was the most positive influence that helped me with learning and adjusting to new territory. Music was always able to take me back in time and be my best friend during difficult times. Music is still my very best friend to this day; it picks me up through rough patches. Despite the fact that being able to create music gave me life, a few years later, golf, as well as The First Tee, was introduced to me. I use many of the core values from both golf and The First Tee, such as perseverance and judgment. Not only has both golf and The First Tee led me into becoming a better person, golf has led me to amazing opportunities, for example: interacting with professionals such as Jason Day, Brooks Koepka, Jordan Spieth, and Sergio Garcia at the Zurich Classic, achieving high school MVP as a Freshman and attending the International Junior Golf Academy in Hilton Head, SC. Both Music and golf have shaped me into being the person I am today and I am forever grateful for both gifts. Faces of the First Tee portraits: New Orleans Snapshots by Andrew J. Cohoon