As we end a tremendous year, we also come to the end of a tremendous era for First Tee – Fort Worth as our longtime Executive Director, Kevin Long, retires from his position with us to pursue what has always been his passion: working with young people. Through his nearly 18 years of service to First Tee – Fort Worth, we have seen amazing growth, the opening of three facilities, and countless opportunities open up to the thousands of young people in our four county service area.
Some of Kevin’s favorite sayings were “You made the mistake of asking ‘How can I help?'” and “Run through the finish line!” To commemorate, the First Tee staff created this video as a sentimental thanks for the many years of service.
We cannot thank Mr. Long enough for the work and passion he has poured into our chapter over the years and wish him the best of luck in his new position as the Head Coach of the Texas Wesleyan University Men’s Golf team! While we’ll see him in a new role, we know he will remain connected with First Tee long into the future. Best of luck in this new chapter!
A Message from Kevin Long
December 21, 2022
Dear Friends of First Tee – Fort Worth,
As most of you may have heard by now, I am stepping down as Executive Director of our chapter and have assumed the role of Head Men’s Golf Coach at Texas Wesleyan University. I will continue to work with our chapter, serving as a consultant in 2023 while also consulting for other First Tee chapters and non-profits. I have been honored and privileged to lead our chapter as Executive Director for almost 17 years and in that time, have been fortunate to work with amazing staff members, board members, volunteers, donors, advocates, community partners and most importantly, thousands of young people in our community! We have created three distinct and unique facilities in the Ben Hogan Learning Centers at Rockwood and Squaw Creek as well as the Briscoe Program Location located on FWISD property. Our program has grown exponentially since we started, and we are consistently recognized as one of the top chapters in The First Tee Network. It has been both professionally and personally fulfilling to be the leader of the organization during that growth!
In all my years of youth development, I have never seen a better or more effective character education tool than the First Tee’s Life Skills Experience and Curriculum. It is research driven, constantly evolving, child focused, and activity based. I know that every young person that has been impacted by this program has been strengthened with life enhancing skills like resiliency, interpersonal communication, conflict resolution, goal setting and decision-making capability that every young person in our society needs, more now than ever as we recover from COVID. I have been driven all these years by one simple vision of providing this empowering program to as many young people as possible, including our golfers at Texas Wesleyan. In doing so, all of us, working together, have made a positive and lasting impact on our community that has a ripple effect for generations to come!
As we come up on our 20th Anniversary year as a chapter in 2023, I felt the time was right to get involved once again in working directly with young people in some fashion and return to competitive athletics. I have always considered myself a teacher and coach first and foremost and spent the first 25 years of my career doing just that. The chance to build First Tee – Fort Worth into a preeminent youth development agency was a once in a lifetime opportunity that called to me in personally meaningful ways. I will never do anything that is more important professionally than my years at First Tee but I look forward to this new challenge of working with the young men in our golf program at Texas Wesleyan to be all that they can be, both on and off the golf course. The tradition at Texas Wesleyan is a strong one that includes seven NAIA National Titles and I look forward to continuing to raise that bar for our student-athletes and building a team culture, much like what we have done at our First Tee chapter.
I also look forward to helping our chapter to new heights in my backstage consulting role. Our new Executive Director, J.R. Holland, was our Director of Development for over 4 years from 2011-2015 and has an extensive background in fundraising, business management, operations and is also a Class A PGA Golf Professional. I know that he will do an excellent job, along with our Board of Directors and Staff, to create a compelling strategic plan and vision for the next several years, which will be a NorthStar in our journey ahead. I hope that you will join me in supporting those efforts and work with us to continue to build game changers in our community.
I wish the very best of holiday seasons to you and your loved ones. I hope you all take a moment to be grateful for the people in our lives who enrich us and tell them how special they are. Please continue to ask, “how can I help” and always run through the finish line!
Former ED – Now Chapter Consultant
First Tee – Fort Worth