Teen's First Tee experience includes national scholarship

Up to $20K additional opportunities await


The First Tee has been a part of 17-year-old Joey Neddo’s life for some time now, and he credits the organization for teaching him so much and helping prepare him for life in the future, which includes him recently being selected to be a national scholarship recipient through the First Tee.

He was one of four recipients selected from a pool of applicants across the country, and the scholarship is worth up to $20,000 in college financial assistance and will also include the opportunity for professional development opportunities and an assigned mentor to help guide the recipients through their college years.

Being selected among such a select few is something Neddo is very proud of.

He is a senior at Ponte Vedra High School and has been accepted to attend the University of Central Florida where he plans to major in lifestyle and community management with the goal of running a retirement home later in life.

“Throughout most of my life I always wanted to be an architect because I love building Legos and designing things, but three years ago I started working at Vicar’s Landing, the retirement home in Sawgrass, because both my brothers worked there and I kind of followed in their footsteps,” Neddo said. “I started working there as a server and now I’m in between a server and release supervisor, it really depends on the day. I love being there and seeing all the elders because they have so much to share with you and a lot of times no one will listen. I realized it was my calling.”

According to Neddo, the news of the scholarship was told to him via a Zoom call and what made it even more special was that actor Micheal Pena, who is a big supporter of First Tee came on to inform them about it.

The scholarship announcement came after Neddo returned from a leadership summit at West Creek Ranch in Montana, where he was one of 40 First Tee members to take part during the two-week event, 20 per week.

“I was completely shocked, because there were about 40 people that could have been picked, so I must have made a good impression,” Neddo said.

His mom Bridget Neddo knew of the scholarship prior to him going on the Zoom call and she said it was so difficult to keep it a surprise.

“Family is the one word and the best way that I can describe my experience at West Creek Ranch, because I didn’t know anyone going into the week, but now we all have a group chat and still message daily,” Neddo said.

Neddo started at First Tee when he was in kindergarten but bounced back and forth between golf and soccer before committing fully to golf and the First Tee since his freshman year of high school.

There are many aspects of First Tee that have made him the person he is today.

“The curriculum they have is not just about golf but it’s also about learning core values and respecting yourself and the course,” Neddo said. “It’s all about building relationships with people because that’s the help that you’ll later in life.”

Once he graduates from high school, Neddo will become an alumnus of First Tee and he is already looking forward to continuing to help coach with the summer programs and to give back by supporting the next generation as alumni and older members were there for him over the years.

“That was me 12 years ago, and now look where I’m at today and how far I’ve come,” Neddo said. “Seeing the potential in each person can really spark something for them and its fun to watch that growth.”