What started as just another rainy day became the valued tradition that is the Valpo Parks 16th Annual Creekside Classic for Kids, where junior athletes golfed with experienced adult players and showed their individual abilities through a skills competition.
Thanks to the efforts of Golf Coach and Coordinator Nancy Bender, Valpo Parks Foundation Director of Business Operations Steve Antonetti, and several other Creekside Classic for Kids volunteers, the skills competition took place inside of the clubhouse. Simulators and other technology allowed players to compete in categories such as putt, chip, sand, pitch, drive, and play while avoiding the rain.
After the youth players received their awards from the skills competition and the rain stopped, the junior golfers met their adult teammates for the classic outside. These positive interactions between experienced and young golfers epitomized the goal of the event, which was to introduce young people to a sport that has been a cultural catalyst for centuries.
“There are outings where adults are playing to support kids’ causes, and this is one where we have adults and kids playing together. So, we not only support kids’ causes, but the golfers are developing relationships with one another and the sport in general. We also have legacy folks who are playing; people who played in this event when they were kids are now playing as adults,” said Valpo Parks Foundation Executive Director John Seibert.
Legacy players exemplify the deep connections that the Creekside Classic for Kids forms between athletes and their community. Winner of the first-ever Creekside Classic for Kids in 2002 Lauren (Bryan) Fernandez came back to play in the event this year, and she will be teaching Spanish at the middle school level in Valparaiso next school year. A golfer since age five, Fernandez has always had a love for the sport and was more than happy to compete.
“It’s really exciting to play with kids who are the same age as I was when I first competed. It comes full-circle, and all of a sudden you can give back as an adult like the ones you looked up to,” said Fernandez.
Aside from those competing with legacy players, youth golfers also played with parents and family members. Entire families took on the course together on the day of the classic. For example, Co-Chair Frank Kusbel enjoyed the event with several members of his family.
“I have a ten-year-old son named Jacob who has been golfing for the last two years. I am super excited to golf with him today. My father-in-law is here along with one of Jacob’s friends as well. This event started as a unique tournament that allows junior golfers to play with adults, and I’m glad that it continues today,” said Kusbel.
Be they family members, legacy players, or anyone simply willing to give back to the Valpo community, the 16th Annual Creekside Classic for Kids engaged athletes of all ages through a great game of golf.
For more information about the Valpo Parks Foundation, visit www.valpoparksfoundation.org.
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