Since 2016, Jorge and his younger brother Nicholas have been mainstays in First Tee, receiving its six-class sessions for just $5.00. Along the way, both Jorge and his brother have become solid golfers. Jorge was the number one golfer at Wyoming High School during his sophomore, junior, and senior years. Through donated lessons at Golf-Tec with number four teacher in the state of Michigan Ian Hughes, Jorge carded his lowest scores ever (in the low 40s on 9 holes) his junior year. As he wrapped up his senior year (golf season was canceled due to COVID-19), he was in the Eagle Level at First Tee and was a junior coach in 2019 and this summer.
But since his freshman year, Jorge has been working toward something bigger than his 4.0 GPA and a good golf game – a full-ride college scholarship. He began caddying at Kent Country Club in 2016 and worked extremely hard in the summer of 2019 to get the loops he needed as a caddie for a chance at the prestigious Chick Evans Scholarship – a caddie scholarship that provides a full ride, including room and board, to the University of Michigan or Michigan State.
Last winter, Jorge was the first-ever Evans Scholarship recipient from First Tee – West Michigan, and was the only caddie from the area courses selected for the award. Now, he’s in his first year at the University of Michigan with 25 other Evans Scholars, putting his self-reliance to the test with COVID-19 online classes and other typical first-year college challenges. He and Executive Director Tyler Smies connect every other week over Zoom to ensure Jorge is acclimating in Ann Arbor. He’s the first in his family to attend college. The normal challenges exist – getting to bed on time and balancing new freedoms with class demands and responsibilities in the Evans House. There is still time for fun – Jorge is excited that he made an eSports Team at Michigan and has found a passion for ping pong as well.
Looking back four years ago when we first interviewed Jorge’s mother Maria, it was clear to her even then what impact First Tee was making on Jorge and Nicholas.
“I noticed then that both my sons were calmer, more polite, more thoughtful, and even more strategic in their day-to-day life than they were before,” Maria said. “The values that First Tee talks about – they are truths that they can live by in all parts of life – it’s not just in the context of sports.”