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NORTON, Massachusetts – During what will be a year-long celebration of The First Tee of Massachusetts’s 15th year of operation, the program recently witnessed the departure of one of its longtime leaders and the entrance of a new and fresh face.
Kyle Harris, a Bay State native, recently took over as director of operations for The First Tee of Massachusetts. Harris will oversee what is considered one of the most successful The First Tee chapters across the national network from Joe McCabe, who had served in a leadership role for The First Tee of Massachusetts since 2004. Earlier this spring, McCabe announced that he would be relocating with his family to Florida.
“We were fortunate to have Joe lead the program for so many years, and we could not be more excited to have Kyle continue to grow and expand the program,” said Jesse Menachem, Mass Golf’s Executive Director/CEO. “Kyle has a wealth of knowledge, a ton of energy, and he oozes with The First Tee passion.”
Harris joins the Mass Golf full-time staff after spending the last six years working with The First Tee of Utah. While at The First Tee of Utah, Harris served as Lead Coach/Certification Coordinator.
“I started out as a volunteer coach and then was able to lead my own program sessions and got more involved with the administration out in Utah and was able to help shape the program,” said Harris. “I also helped to launch a new program location in Southern Utah in 2015. One thing that I hope to bring to Massachusetts is more of a focus on certification and getting our kids advanced through The First Tee certification levels.
Although Harris has always enjoyed being a volunteer coach, having a full-time and leadership role with The First Tee is something that he has always dreamed about.
“After being able to coach part time but needing to have a day job to support my family, I starting to think that someday this would be something that I would want to do full time,” said Harris. “To have that opportunity back in my home state of Massachusetts is really terrific, and I’m very excited about it.”
Despite spending the last 10 years in Utah, Harris has strong ties with the Bay State as he grew up on Cape Cod and attended Nauset Regional High School. In 2004, Harris graduated from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sports Management.
“It feels good to be back in Massachusetts,” said Harris, who has been splitting his time between Utah and Massachusetts since his appointment in early June. “It will be better once the whole family is here. I grew up here and when I left here it was just me, but now I am coming back with a wife and two kids.”
His strong connection to Massachusetts and his passion for coaching and youth development is what made Harris a perfect fit for The First Tee of Massachusetts which – since its launch in 2003 – has expanded from one to five program locations and currently serves more than 30,000 participants through its on-course and in-school programming.
“Kyle will be able to use his prior knowledge of Massachusetts to determine where we go from here,” said Menachem on the future of the program. “I think collectively by being a former Mass resident and being so involved in The First Tee, in a few different levels and capacities, he will be able to excel and jump right in.”
Both Menachem and Harris have future visions to expand The First Tee of Massachusetts.
“I think we all would like to see a stronger and bigger landscape in strategic locations to make sure we are doing the right thing in the right places,” said Menachem. “But as a statewide chapter, under the umbrella of Mass Golf, I think we have tremendous opportunities to expand that and to make it that much more robust and inclusive.”
Harris too eyes strategic ways to allow the program to reach more youth across the state.
“In addition to continuing the growth and success of the program locations we already have in place, we will be establishing some new program locations around the state,” said Harris. “Right now, we’ve got five locations that are active and one that’s getting ready to come online at KOHR Golf in Natick. We hope to grow that number of locations in the next year or two and are actively looking at some of the best opportunities to do so.”
For additional information about The First Tee of Massachusetts, please visit https://www.massgolf.org/play/the-first-tee/