CANTON  GlenOak junior Avery Villard has been selected to attend The First Tee Life Skills and Leadership Academy in Blaine, Minn., next month.

Willard, who is a volunteer with the First Tee of Canton, will join more than 90 junior golfers from The First Tee program nationwide for the national event July 6-12.

“Basically, for the leadership academy, I’ll get to go and do a lot of activities and play golf for a week, plus meet a lot of new people,” Villard said.

At First Tee of Canton, Villard is a Birdie-level participant who volunteers to work with the younger children in the program. He was a member of the junior varsity team at GlenOak last season and is looking forward to his first visit to Minnesota.

Having only flown once before in his life, Villard will fly on his own to Minnesota and spend the week in a variety of leadership development and golf activities. He and the other 95 participants in the academy will get a chance to play with peers from around the country, seeing what a championship golf course looks like in person and exploring possible careers in golf while living in a dorm setting for the week.

By gaining that experience and learning from the top coaches in The First Tee network, Villard hopes to improve his game enough to take the step up from the JV level to varsity.

“That’d be great. I’d love to be able to make the varsity team,” Villard said.

He added that making the golf team is his favorite accomplishment within the sport so far. The reason Villard enjoys golf as opposed to other sports is that unlike a sport such as football or basketball, golf is much less predicated on size, strength and overwhelming athletic ability.

Noting that “anyone can play,” he pointed out that golfers can succeed without having to be 6-foot-4 and 250 pounds and learning the game has been a fun process. Willard has been a golfer since he was 5 years old, but being a part of First Tee has allowed him to ramp up that learning process in part by sharing what he has learned about the sport with younger players.

In addition to golf, Villard is also active in marching band.

The First Tee of Canton is a non-profit youth development program and golf instruction center at 2525 25th Street NE. It includes a nine-hole par three course and driving range with an indoor practice facility which is also available for inclement weather. The program offers golf instruction for children age 5 and above.

As part of the First Tee mission statement, golf skills and life skills are taught in tandem and the First Tee Life Skills and Leadership Academy is focused on recognizing and rewarding exceptional teen participants in The First Tee for their accomplishments while enhancing skills that will help on and off the golf course.  

Reach Andy at 330-580-8936
On Twitter: @aharrisBURB