USGA, AJGA Honor Villela, Suarez for Exemplary VolunteerismJunior Golfers receive President's Youth Leadership Award at Rolex Tournament of ChampionsJuly 20, 2007
BRASELTON, Ga. - Angela Villela, of Sylmar, Calif., and Joseph Suarez, of Richmond, Va., were given the 2007 President's Youth Leadership Award Thursday, July 5 during the Rolex Tournament of Champions at The Ohio State University Golf Club in Columbus, Ohio.
This award was created to recognize one boy and one girl AJGA member who demonstrated leadership, character and community service through their involvement with the USGA-AJGA Youth Leadership Club - a joint initiative founded in 2006 to further develop junior golfers through volunteerism. In the award's inaugural year, Katrina Delen-Briones, of San Francisco, and Adam Michel, of Orinda, Calif., were honored for their efforts at their local The First Tee chapters.
"We hope that the USGA's support of the AJGA and this award will continue to set the tone for people who are leaders in their communities, in their schools, and particularly in golf," USGA President Walter Driver said during the Rolex Dinner of Champions. "All of you in this room are going to have a rich career in golf, however it goes, so I urge you to give back to the game."
Villela, 16, earned this honor through her commitment to the Andres Y Maria Cardenas Foundation, which donates money to high school graduates going on to college. She also volunteers for the Special Olympics at Vista Valencia Golf Course and started an after-school program called "Growing the Game" with the help of her father, Gus Villela, and her instructor, Rudy Garcia. Additionally, Villela organized the effort to raise funds for equipment and negotiated an agreement with Shoal Canyon Golf Course for her high school golf team to play and practice at no cost. The result was a 10-0 season, a league championship and an average improvement of 25 strokes per nine-hole round by her teammates.
"I didn't do this because I wanted to be recognized, I did it because it had to be done," Villela said in her acceptance speech. "Tonight is not about me. This night is about growing the game of golf. It's about giving and not expecting anything in return."
Suarez started giving his time as a 12-year-old. By the time he was 16, he was supporting The First Tee of Richmond and numerous other local organizations, including Richmond's Hook-a-Kid on Golf program, his church and Challenge Golf League. In the past three years, Suarez has volunteered hundreds of hours, including nearly 500 hours this year alone.
"I'm blessed to have had great support from the time I started hitting golf balls," Suarez said upon receiving the award. "I'd like to encourage everyone to help out in your respective communities not just for material rewards. It's a great feeling to help out around the community you live in."
By receiving this honor, Villela and Suarez will each receive four tickets to a future U.S. Open of their choice and access to the USGA hospitality tent during the U.S. Open. They also received an automatic entry into the 2007 Rolex Tournament of Champions - one of the most prestigious junior golf events in the country.
About the USGA
The USGA is the national governing body of golf in this country and Mexico, a combined territory that includes more than half the game's golfers and golf courses.
The USGA's most visible role is played out each season in conducting 13 national championships, including the U.S. Open, U.S. Women's Open and U.S. Senior Open. Ten additional USGA national championships are exclusively for amateurs, and include the U.S. Amateur and the U.S. Women's Amateur.
The USGA also writes the Rules of Golf, conducts equipment testing, maintains an official Handicap System and administers an ongoing "For the Good of the Game" grants program, which has allocated more than $56 million over 10 years to programs that seek to grow the game. For more information about the USGA, visit www.usga.org .
About the AJGA
The American Junior Golf Association is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to the overall growth and development of young men and women who aspire to earn college golf scholarships through competitive junior golf.
The largest Association of its kind, the AJGA has an annual junior membership (boys and girls ages 12-18) of more than 5,000 junior golfers from 49 states and more than 25 foreign countries.
Titleist, the AJGA's National Sponsor, has been the catalyst and driving force behind the AJGA's success since 1989.
Rolex Watch USA, which is in its third decade of AJGA support, became the inaugural AJGA Premier Partner in 2004. In 2007, after 12 years of support, Polo Ralph Lauren became the AJGA's second Premier Partner.
AJGA alumni have risen to the top of amateur, collegiate and professional golf. More than 160 former AJGA juniors currently play on the PGA and LPGA Tours and have compiled more than 300 wins. AJGA alumni include Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk, Stewart Cink, Davis Love III, Cristie Kerr, Pat Hurst, Paula Creamer, Morgan Pressel and Julieta Granada.
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For more information, please contact Steve Ethun ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) in the AJGA Communications Department at (678) 425-1786, or visit the AJGA Web site at ajga.org .