Town Crier News Staff
Manila tenth grade student Michael Shedd was chosen to attend The First Tee's annual Life Skills and Leadership Academy July 15-22. The event was held at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kan.
Participants in the week-long program were selected from The First Tee's golf learning facilities around the world.
Michael has been golfing almost as long as he has been walking. Golf is a family activity. He enjoys playing with his dad, his two grandfathers and his grandmother.
At the age of nine, Michael became part of the USGA Youth Golf program started in Mississippi County. That program developed into the First Tee program.
Michael was familiar with The First Tee's Life Skills and Leadership Academy and decided to apply for the spot.
"It is more than just a golf camp for a week," he said. "Emphasis is put on character and life skills to help make us better people."
He applied and was pleased to be chosen for the all expense paid week.
The theme of this year's academy was SuperSTAR for life. Participants learned about various life skills such as self-management, planning, and decision-making, interpersonal skills, and helping others. In addition, a special scholarship symposium introduced the participants to The First Tee's Scholars Program. Current Scholars spoke about the value of striving for success in high school and the benefits of becoming a Scholar.
"Attending the academy is one of the requirements of receiving a First Tee Scholarship," Michael said.
It was Michael's first time to travel by air, which added to the experience of the trip.
He enjoyed meeting young people from all over.
"We had two attending from New Zealand," Michael said.
The young people stayed in dorms on the college campus.
Several coaches were on hand to instruct them.
"We had a lot of group instructions," Michael said. "We golfed at Colbert Hills Golf Course. The number 11 is known as the hardest par 3 in the United States."
One of the highlights for him was shooting 12 pars in a row on the course.
Everyone attending the academy took a golf/life skills test and Michael found out he knew more about life than golf. He scored 14 out of 15 in the life skills test and 10 out of 15 in the golf skills test.
"I learned a lot about the rules of the game while I was there," Michael said. "It was a positive learning experience for all of us."
Michael hopes to be accepted to go again next year along with another one of the players from his First Tee group.
Michael expressed his appreciation to C.W. Cummings, director of First Tee, and Coach Jim Zielinski and the other coaches who help with the program.
Michael is at the Eagle Level with First Tee and is a mentor to the younger players.
"I like working with the younger children in First Tee and encouraging them," he said.
Michael is in his second year as part of the Manila High School Golf Team. The golf coach is John Deaton and his co-team members are Chad Nunnally, Drew Warren, Andrew Nelms, Trey McCormick, Aaron Wallace and Blaine Lawrence.
He received medalist honors four times this year. His best scores to date are one under on nine holes and six over on 18 holes.
"Golf is an individual sport," Michael said. "You try to beat the course."
Some of the highlights of Michael's golf career include winning top honors in putting in a drive, pitch, putt competition held in Little Rock. He also won the First Tee Tournament in his age division two consecutive years. He was one of the first First Tee participants to receive a membership at Thunder Bayou in Blytheville.
"Attending The First Tee Academy was a successful opportunity for me," Michael said. "We worked golf into life skills and life skills into our golf."
Michael is the son of David and Trena Shedd of Manila.
In addition to golf, Michael enjoys playing baseball. He also enjoys music and plays drums at his church and with the school band.
Michael has a busy schedule and tries to keep his priorities in order. Whatever he does, he tries to give it his best.