Feb. 6, 2013
By Elly Walker
By Elly Walker
FRESNO, Calif-- The accumulation of touring in the PGA, coaching golf at Fresno State for 35 years, being inducted into two different halls of fame and continually serving as a role model in the golf profession amounts to a life full of success, unique and special, and one that you would believe already is topped with the icing on the cake.
The icing on the cake though, came Wednesday February 6 at Sunnyside Country Club when Fresno State men's golf head coach Mike Watney was honored as the recipient of The First Tee Lifetime Achievement Award and applauded with a standing ovation. For Watney, it was not only icing on the cake, but much more.
"It is a great honor because of the organization The First Tee is," Watney said. "The core values they teach young people is absolutely what I believe in. I'm honored because it is The First Tee that is recognizing me."
Watney was recognized at The First Tee Fresno's 5th Anniversary Luncheon in front of his loving family, supportive co-workers and community members, and The First Tee executives.
The luncheon was organized to showcase the youth in the Fresno community and congratulate them for their excellent performance on and off the golf course. Additionally the luncheon honored the volunteers and donors that have helped build The First Tee into the program it is today.
"I'm not really proud of one specific thing in Fresno, but more of the overall embracing of the concept and implementation that is going on in Fresno," The First Tee CEO Joe Louis Barrow Jr. said. "I am very excited about the next five years, given what the community has done and what the board has done to invest and created thus far. Fresno is going to be a brighter star in our network based on the work they so dutifully did in the first five years."
The First Tee began in 1997 and has introduced the game of golf and its fundamental values to more than six million young people. The program flourishes on nine core values in which are taught to young people in effort to prepare themselves for success in high school, college, and beyond.
"The First Tee is doing a phenomenal job impacting the lives of young people," Barrow Jr. said. "Our life-skills curriculum is really helping them understand who they are and giving them skills to go in directions they might not have previously considered."
The nine core values encompassed in The First Tee curriculum include honestly, integrity, sportsmanship, respect, confidence, responsibility, perseverance, courtesy, and judgment.
Through Watney's career, he embodied the nine values of The First Tee and strove to implement these values into his own coaching.
Watney tutored 29 All-Americans and 19 All-American scholars, led his squads to capture 12 conference championships, and coached his teams to qualify for 16 NCAA Championships and 17 Western Regionals.
The model Watney uses as a coach and as dedicated professional reflect the structure that The First Tee was founded upon.
As Watney enters his final season as the Fresno State men's golf head coach, The Lifetime Achievement Award allows him to reflect on the reasons behind the foundation he made within the Fresno State men's golf program and reminisce on the lives he has touched and the youth he has influenced.
"May God continue to bless this program and thank you for this award," Watney said.
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