Humans of Pro Kids – Powerful Stories In Celebration of 25 Years

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“I live in the neighborhood. I knew about Pro Kids but had never been there. I was part of the STAR/PAL program and one day they said we were going on a field trip. I was thinking it would be to Legoland or something but they said that we were going to Pro Kids to play some golf. I was like ‘Are you serious?’I definitely didn’t want to go but as soon as I started swinging I was the first one to hit to back net on the driving range. I’ve been hooked ever since. If Pro Kids wasn’t here I’d jump the fence so I could still play golf. There’s no other place like it. My dad calls me ‘Tiger Melo’ and watches golf now that I play. I’m trying to get that scholarship so I work hard on my game. Last week Coach Mitch invited me to play on a big course and I was so excited and nervous that I couldn’t sleep the night before. In the morning my dad cooked me breakfast and gave me $20, my sister helped me pick out my clothes, and my brother gave me his jacket since it was cold in the morning. I got to Pro Kids early and Mr. Andrew (Pro Kids CEO) let me borrow his Callaway visor too. I looked so fresh and was ready to go. I played okay but I need to work on my driver. I want to be the best.” – Romelo, Pro Kids Member, Level 4

“My first day at Pro Kids I was wearing a SpongeBob backpack. I was in only in 3rd grade. Now I can’t believe I’ve been here for five years and I’m in middle school. Everyone here is my friend. The kids are my friends, the staff are my friends, the volunteers are my friends, my clubs are my friends, the course is my friend. But Coach Mitch is like the best person in my life. He is humble and super awesome. My first couple of years he helped me during his breaks and on his days off. Now I feel like a boss on the course. I played pretty good for my first tournament at Twin Oakes, I hit the range, practiced on the putting green, had this memorable shot on hole 16…my putting was trash, but I hit a super hard drive that went like 250 yards carried 210 and it rolled a lot. I got a par and it was one of the hardest holes on the course. You know we went to go eat Wings-N-Things and I celebrated with Romelo and Jacob afterwards. I’m happy, proud, and confident because of Pro Kids. My older brother is in college now and he misses Pro Kids. I know I’ll miss it too. I’ll definitely cry when I graduate high school because I won’t be here every day. But for now, I’m just thankful for Coach Mitch and everyone at Pro Kids.” Joshua, Pro Kids Member, Level 4

“When my siblings and I first joined Pro Kids, we refused to get out of the car. We thought golf was for men who wore funny socks, and we’d never actually seen anyone play before. When we stepped onto the grounds, there was a golf course and a tiny broken-down shack—but there were kids! My favorite memories of that time are simple ones, just hanging out with kids my age playing golf. I loved challenging my friends in chipping contests and betting sodas. Pro Kids completely changed my mind about golf, and it became my community. Not coming from much, I never thought I would play on the UCLA Women’s Golf team, graduate with a major and minor I enjoyed, and find some of the best friends I’d have forever. My experience propelled me in the direction of professional golf, but it hasn’t been a smooth road. I’ve had a lot of heartbreaks, but when you lose you learn, and I’ve had many opportunities to learn. I have so much appreciation for the game of golf. It has taught me about life and who I really am as a person. It has taken me around the world and given me opportunities I never knew existed. I can only hope my legacy has a fraction of the impact of the great people before me, like Ernie Wright, who have helped create opportunities for all of us Pro Kids.” – Maiya Tanaka, Pro Kids Alumni

“Learning golf was hard. I’ve been practicing at Pro Kids since I was six years old and became a member as soon as I could at seven. My dad signed me up and I’ve been focused on getting better ever since. It was pretty quiet around here my first day but after four years, I’ve met a lot of great coaches and think Pro Kids has a great system. You can learn golf outside on the course and get help with your homework inside. They teach you etiquette and help you become mentally and physically stronger. You have to remember your Pro Kids number to check-in so your memory gets better. It’s really fun to play in the big events, too. I played in the Women’s Tournament two years in a row. My group won two years ago and last year I played with Marty (Pro Kids Board Member) and she was the coolest. My favorite club is the sand wedge because I’m great with it. I’m also a hockey player. Hockey teaches you hand-eye coordination and balance like golf but its much colder and I’m a lot faster on ice. My favorite team is the Gulls and my favorite player is my dad. He’s the goalie on his team and he’s awesome. I really love golf and hockey and will definitely teach my little brother to play both. He can’t walk yet, but he already has a plastic club in his hands.”- Melanie, Pro Kids Member, Level 4

“I’m more confident after a year at CSU San Marcos than ever in my life. I’m still myself (still a shy soul), but now I ask a lot of questions. I go to office hours and stay on campus all day for tutoring when I need support. A lot of people majoring in computer science like to work alone. I prefer to be around people, but group projects have been a challenge. I don’t want anyone to feel like they aren’t included. My classmates have become my support system, a lot like Pro Kids was for me growing up. I learned integrityand teamwork at Pro Kids and it makes a lot of sense that I gravitated towards a great group of people to learn with. Most of my friends had computer science classes in high school. I didn’t so I feel behind, but my friends are lifting me up. I’ve found a home at CSU San Marcos. I’m happy with where my future is going and will start taking summer courses soon to get ahead for next year.”—Tiffany Green, Age 19, Pro Kids Scholar

“Our family has found a second home in City Heights at Pro Kids. Luciano and Miguel are Level 3 students and the attend the Academy daily. They often ask me to come back later when I show up to pick them up. Ms. Rachel proudly displays their assignments which cover topics from geography, math, history and even the stock market! At Pro Kids, my children befriend other children from all backgrounds, and they learn to play together, learn together, to compete in a friendly manner, to persevere, excel, and to embrace each new challenge. All of this (!) under the watchful eye of an excellent team of coaches, tutors, staff, and volunteers who are always around to encourage them in the game of golf and life.”- Lorenza Rivero, Pro Kids Parent

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