The PGA TOUR recently hosted over 150 local high school students of lower socioeconomic situations who learned about job opportunities in the sports industry at an event sponsored by THE PLAYERS Championship.
The Training U: Sports and Business Education Forum was held Friday, Feb. 16 at TPC Sawgrass. Attendees included students and faculty from Duval and St. Johns County schools. The event, an initiative of the PGA TOUR’s MOSAIC Group (multi-culturalism employee resource group) started with a welcome ceremony before a panel discussion and question and answer session. Students spent most of their time in breakout sessions viewing presentations and learning about potential career paths. The forum also featured a networking opportunity with 16 employers, including Florida companies, various universities and representatives from the Jumbo Shrimp, the Jacksonville Icemen, the Jacksonville Jaguars and more.
Additionally, THE PLAYERS Championship’s Executive Director Jared Rice announced the donation of three new vans to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Northeast Florida. Students and their teachers then posed for a photo in front of the TPC Sawgrass clubhouse building with the vans to conclude the event.
“Events like today’s sports and education forum exemplify how our team, and volunteers, hope to have an impact on the bright potential leaders of our community," Rice said. "These events directly tie back to THE PLAYERS' $50 million pledge to youth-oriented charities set in 2011. The tournament has a long-standing relationship with The Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Florida and having the opportunity for our team to donate these vans is truly special. These vans will provide a means to succeed for a younger generation.”
Stacia Mahoney, an 11th grade student currently attending Terry Parker High School in Duval County, said the event was "interesting" and a good opportunity to learn about future job opportunities. After high school, Mahoney plans on getting her bachelor’s degree from an accredited university.
"I plan on going into the Navy, and then maybe going into photography and fine arts," Mahoney said. "I may be a psychology major, journalism is one, I have a few things in mind."
Boys and Girls Clubs of Northeast Florida President and CEO Paul Martinez noted that the event was “amazing” and THE PLAYERS Championship’s donation was a "godsend" and a "blessing" that amounted to an investment of over $100,000.
"Transportation is so important," Martinez said. "If we can't get to the kids, we can't serve them, and we have an old fleet [of vans] and this is absolutely what the doctor ordered."
According to the Boys and Girls Clubs president and CEO, the organization offers youth hope and a sense of belonging. Students get opportunities to engage in different activities such as arts and crafts, computers and robotics through the organization, Martinez said.
"When you look at crime now, these kids, especially the teenagers, there's no place for them to go after school," he added. “You leave idol minds like that and they'll stray, and it won't be good. If we've done our job, at the end of the period that they're with us we will have exposed them to college, taking them to a college showing them what it's like, expose them to entrepreneurship, talk to them about trade schools because not everybody goes to college and then let them know what great opportunities there are serving our country in the military."
For more information on THE PLAYERS Championship, visit www.THEPLAYERS.com. For more information on the Boys and Girls Clubs of Northeast Florida, visit www.bgcnf.org.