Good Sports: Randall Van Ornam

FRESNO, Calif.

"The things like meeting and greeting, goal setting skills, decision-making skills," Executive Director of The First Tee of Fresno Michael Firpo said. "So by using the game of golf, we're able to teach those things in a fun and active format rather than sitting them down in a classroom."

Today he teaches his own Saturday classes for seven to twelve year olds in The First Tee of Fresno.

"We teach the kids to always go up to someone that you don't know," Central High School senior Randall Van Ornam explained, "Take off your hat, sunglasses, look, them in the eye, say 'hi, nice to meet you', shake their hand, nice and firm."

Last year his golf coaches encouraged Van Ornam to apply for a spot at The First Tee Nine Healthy Habits Summit, a four day, all expenses paid trip to La Quinta, California where healthy eating and living was discussed in depth.

"Community service, overall character, those are all things on the application process," commented Firpo.

"Not only write essays, but you had to get letters of recommendation and other things," Van Ornam added.

The odds were slim, but Van Ornam wasn't fazed, and was selected as one of 24 attendees from across the country.

"I felt that I'd worked hard and the hard work actually got me somewhere," Van Ornam confessed. "And it felt good to know that."

The highlight of his trip: getting picked out of the group by golf legend and noted fitness enthusiast Gary Player, who challenged Van Ornam to plank for one minute.

"He was saying he's seventy-something, and he's more fit than all of us there," shared Van Ornam. "So he had me plank on my back with my feet up and my head up for about a minute, and it was tough, but I got through it. I don't think he expected me to get through it."

Van Ornam also talked healthy living with former President Bill Clinton, picking up many tips he'll share with his friends, and even his Saturday students.

"Every meal was healthy," Van Ornam said. "It's not like we cheated a little bit. No, every meal was healthy. Every workout was good."

And The First Tee of Fresno will continues to do what it can to give the Central Valley's youth once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.

"We're open to all kids," Firpo explained. "We're reaching out to kids in every corner of our community and trying to get them involved in our program. This isn't about kids who play golf and want to be in our program. This is about kids period."

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