First Tee Spotlight: Elias Aouad

Elias Aouad | 26 years old | First Tee Alum | Bethany Christian Services

Winter at First Tee Yields Immediate and Future Fruit for Aouad

Elias was our very first participant in 2012 at Homework & Hitting, our winter tutoring and swing training program. Hear from Elias how Homework & Hitting made an impact on his game, his school, and now his career: 

First Tee alumni Elias Aoaud on the impact of Homework & Hitting

After one six-class session at First Tee in the fall of 2011 in Grand Rapids, Elias was hooked on golf. He wanted to play high school golf the following spring. So Executive Director Tyler Smies bought a hitting net and began working with Elias in the basement of the Elks Lodge at the Highlands. The following spring, Elias made the high school golf team, and thanks to golf training and academic assistance Elias received, Homework & Hitting was born.

Elias at Homework & Hitting in 2013 at The Highlands Golf Course

More than 10 years later, Homework & Hitting is going strong in Grand Rapids, Muskegon, Holland, and Kalamazoo. More than 200 participants will receive tutoring and swing-training help at 20 area locations in West Michigan this winter. But it all started with Elias.  

Elias shared, “It’s hard to believe that it’s been 12 years since Homework & Hitting started. I remember when the idea of it was first brought up. To say I was excited was an understatement. The program allowed for year-round coaching and allowed me to learn about the game as well as keep up with my studies.

Help with schoolwork was especially important for me – having dedicated study time where I could focus on my school work and get help if I was stuck.

Keeping good grades meant I was able to continue playing for my high school team and with help from Homework & Hitting, it allowed me to do just that.”

Elias, with golf legend Jack Nicklaus in 2013

Now a Network Administrator for Bethany Christian Services, Elias was First Tee’s first graduate in 2015 and went on to get his bachelor’s at Davenport University. During his time at Davenport and years after, he’d come back to volunteer at Homework & Hitting. 

“I knew that once I was no longer a student with First Tee, I wanted to give back in some way. Shortly after my graduation, I asked about volunteering at Homework & Hitting.

“Coming back to First Tee as a volunteer after graduating and being able to help those who were in my shoes was beyond gratifying.

Helping students learn more about the game of golf, correcting swings, and teaching them that golf is a fun sport.

First Tee opened doors for me professionally, too. I was able to secure my first job in my career through the connections I made with other volunteers after I graduated.”

I have nothing but gratitude for First Tee as they helped shape me into the adult and golfer I am today.” – Elias Aouad, 2015 graduate

The Next Generation is here

Finally, Claudia is at the beginning of her journey and just wrapped up Homework & Hitting for the first time this winter. On her first day of class, Claudia immediately grabbed a putter and told Coach Brian she wanted to become the best putter in the class. At just seven years old, Claudia already outperformed the older boys in the class on the putting course. In addition to her Homework & Hitting sessions with Coach Brian, she’s also receiving discounted lessons from the PGA Professional, Kosta Ramirez through First Tee. First Tee will be with her as she learns and grows through the game of golf. 

Your support helps the next generation of kids like Elias become better versions of themselves on and off the course. Give today and support deeper level impact like Homework & Hitting.