As Chairman of THE PLAYERS Championship 2017, Kevin English works with a volunteer leadership team – or “Blue Coats” – to orchestrate the thousands of volunteers whose efforts enable the tournament to donate millions of dollars to Northeast Florida charities each year.
What are your duties as chairman of THE PLAYERS Championship 2017?
I oversee the operations of over 2,000 volunteers. In actuality, I don’t have any specific committee responsibilities and I am fortunate to have the best leadership team in golf. My first vice chairman, Damon Olinto, is actually running the operations and we also have a vice chairman, Adam Campbell, over the Player Services division; a vice chairman, Scot Winter, over the Spectator Services division; a vice chairman, Andy Carroll, over the Facilities Division; and a vice chairman, Troy Smith – our rookie – over the Volunteer Services Division. During the tournament, I will visit with as many of our dedicated volunteers as possible and let them know how much we appreciate what they do to make THE PLAYERS Championship the best experience possible.
Tell us about the army of volunteers who make THE PLAYERS Championship happen each year.
We have over 2,000 volunteers organized across 50 committees under five divisions. They come from far away countries, with one coming in from Malaysia and another from Peru this year. They range in age from 10 years old to close to 90. I am blown away at their dedication and hard work, as many work every weekend beginning in March up to the tournament. During tournament week, some volunteers will work over 100 hours! We have retirees as well as successful heads of businesses. It truly takes an army.
How did you first become involved in THE PLAYERS’ volunteer leadership?
Robert Davis – a friend of mine and a vice chairman of THE PLAYERS at the time – called and asked me if I would be interested in volunteering. My first assignment was assistant chairman of the Volunteer Shuttles Committee, which assists with transporting all of our volunteers to the tournament. I never saw one minute of golf, but the experience was something I really enjoyed and wanted to be part of. I am so happy I said yes to Robert.
Prior to becoming a “blue coat,” you had volunteered for several years with THE PLAYERS Championship. What are some of the volunteer jobs you’ve performed over the years?
My first assignment was in volunteer shuttles. From there, I went on to work in the Corporate Hospitality, VIP Parking and finally Commissary before becoming a Vice Chairman in 2012.
How have your volunteer experiences informed your role as tournament chairman?
I can’t imagine being the chairman without having gone through the many years of learning what every committee does. I had no idea what ShotLink was about or how we rope the course. It makes you appreciate how dedicated our volunteers are and what challenges they face during their assignment. Also, the experience helps the vice chairmen know what committee assignment would be best to groom the next chairman. Finally, the many years of experience enables you to create strong relationships with many of our returning committee chairs.
What is the most rewarding part of being involved with THE PLAYERS Championship?
For me, it’s the charitable impact we can have on local charities and the relationships I have developed with other volunteers. I am always moved by the gratitude each charitable organization shows when we come deliver our charitable give back in November. Last year, when we visited the Five Star Veterans Center and delivered new washers and dryers, I felt so proud to be part of the organization that was helping such a great place. Or to see how thankful St. Vincent’s Healthcare was to receive a new mobile healthcare unit to take care to the poor and underprivileged. The friends I have made while volunteering will last a lifetime and that is pretty special.
How do you enjoy spending your free time?
I am an avid outdoorsman. I love to do anything on the water, but I especially enjoy fishing. I have two boats (you can never have too many) and I enjoy fishing for redfish in the Intracoastal and going offshore for wahoo, tuna and snapper. I enjoy playing golf and I am excited about my son JP taking up the game. I love to hunt quail and I go on a special hunt every year with a group of friends that I met while volunteering at THE PLAYERS. Last but not least, I have an incredible family that is the joy of my life. My wife Debbie and I have been married for over 20 years and we have three amazing children, Morgan (18), Brooke (15) and JP (12).