The golf teams at West High School in Denver will now have all the tools they need to compete, thanks to a major donation from a local partnership.
It's a gift that comes with extra meaning, since this is the first time in close to a decade that the school is offering golf to both boys and girls.
"West is a school for golf; it's here to stay," said Daniel Walter, West's golf coach. "It's something that they can do year-round and feel confident doing it and they'll be prepared for their tournaments."
Inside West High School, the sounds of golf now echo through the halls, as nearly two dozen students are learning the ins and outs of a new sport.
Freshman, Shamari Key, has only been swinging a club for a few months now. This virtual experience... Is yet another first.
"I really like it," Key said. "It's really cool we kind of get the full experience."
This is the first spring West High has offered both, girls and boys golf teams in almost a decade, coach Walter says. Until now, they spent cold days hitting foam balls into lockers.
"It's year one for them as well as golfers, so there's a lot of teaching necessary," Walter said.
Coach Walter's golfers now have a whole new set of tools, including clothes, 15 sets of clubs, and an indoor golf simulator.
It all comes courtesy of Colorado-based GolfTEC, SkyTrak, and Ryan French's organization, Drive Fore the Future, which aims to make golf more accessible to people from all socioeconomic backgrounds.
"The value can't be measured," French said. "The life skills and things that we're going to hopefully pass on to these kids and the opportunity to be part of a team is what we're all about."
Soon, West won't be the only school teeing off with new equipment. The goal of the new partnership is to give nationwide and expand access to the game.
"The access is just unfortunately not fair across the country," French said. "If we can be the economic means to kids who are eager to play, then that's what we want to be."
For French, the plan is to help at least ten schools from a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds.
At West, Shamari Key is thankful.
"I'm just most excited to see what I can learn from this to improve," Key said.
Coach Walter is even more excited about the lessons they'll learn.
"To take 20 kids that last year had never even thought of golf, to this year, being out on golf courses competing, is teaching them that if they decide they want to do it, they can go do it," he said.
High schools interested for more information in applying for support can visit: https://bit.ly/3MzGKZ6
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