Kaitlyn Jarman is certainly the friendliest face at The First Tee of Greater Charlotte.
Parents and participants know her a passionate and an encouraging coach. Our Board Members, donors, and supporters know her as a highly efficient and effective worker. And the rest of our staff, including (make that especially) myself, go to her for guidance on all things “The First Tee.” Kaitlyn is in her 8th year with The First Tee, fourth with our chapter, and as Kaitlyn moves into her new role as Director of Operations I thought it would appropriate to feature her this week.
Kaitlyn, talk about when and why you started playing golf.
I started playing golf when I was about 7 or 8 years old just tagging along with my dad to the golf course. I would walk alongside of him and he would let me take a few shots here and there. We’d hit 9 irons in the back yard and when I got good enough to hit the ball over the fence, then he got me a full set. I started playing competitively at 12 or 13 in 9-hole tournaments around Maryland where I grew up. Then when I got into 8th grade I started playing in an 18-hole mini tour across the mid-Atlantic.
You obviously have a passion for the game. Was there ever a time when you wanted to quit?
Yes – it was hard being the only girl that played out of my friends, and all of the people I played with were boys. There was not a girl’s team at my high school. It was especially difficult when I was around 15 years old, and I wanted to hangout with my friends but had to practice instead. My parents pushed me to keep going. Looking back, it was the best decision I ever made – to stick with golf. I thank my parents for encouraging me to keep playing.
Talk about your decision to play at the collegiate level.
I really got serious about playing collegiate golf my junior year, and I realized that I could play D1. I knew I wanted to go somewhere in North or South Carolina and I sent my resume to just about every coach in both states. I went on a few official visits. I went to App State during fall and fell in love with the campus, the coach, and the girls on the team which was important to me. I just knew that was where I wanted to go to school. Ever since I was 5 I went to Boone in the summers, so even though it was 8 hours away from home it felt like home. I loved college and I loved being a student athlete. I also got to join a sorority. I don’t remember all of the scores I shot or how the team finished, but I have so many wonderful memories.
How did you first get involved with The First Tee?
On a whim. I was still traveling and playing a little bit, and I went down to visit my, now, husband in Wilmington. I was looking for a full-time job and found out that The First Tee of Brunswick County was hiring a Director of Programming. I stayed at Brunswick County as Director of Programming for 2.5 years then moved to Charlotte with my husband where I took on the role of Marketing and Events Manager.
How has The First Tee of Greater Charlotte evolved since your first years here?
Wow. When I first came on board in 2011, I was the 3rd hire and now we’re a staff of 6 (almost 7). We’ve grown from 1 programming location to 8, and our events have grown 4-fold. Also, the brand in general has grown in the Charlotte community. I’ll usually wear a First Tee hat on the weekends, and people are starting to recognize the brand and ask me about it. Our chpater has really grown from a small after school and summer program to a youth service organization that truly is changing lives.
What programs and events have you personally created and developed for our chapter to make it successful?
I created and organized the Ladies First Luncheon which has raised over $55,000 over the last 3 years. I also developed The Young Professionals group which helps create awareness and raise scholarship funds. I helped realign our chapter with The Wells Fargo Championship and helped create opportunities for our participants and volunteers at the tournament. I added a new element of hole experiences to our TFTGC Invitational offering the players a memorable and unique experience. I also implemented the Girls Golf Program in Charlotte. One thing I am most proud of is growing the National School Program from 20 schools in 2011 to 145 schools today and creating transition opportunities for schools such as green-grass field trips.
Talk about your favorite First Tee memories.
My favorite times are when I get to hang out and work with the kids – helping kids build memories around the game of golf.
Ok, fun stuff now…
- Putter or Driver? Driver
- Quail Hollow or Charlotte Country Club? Quail Hollow because no one has asked me to play Charlotte 🙂
- What Tees? 6,000 yards
- Tennis shoes or heels? Flip flops
- Jordan or Rory? Jordan
So to wrap it all up, what makes you come to work every day?
The people. I consider our staff, board members, volunteers, and participants an extended family. I feel blessed and honored that I have a job that is not only fulfilling to me but makes a difference in other people’s lives as well.