What they said: Jane Fader and Matt Certo

November 10, 2010
PGA TOUR staff

MORE INTERVIEWS: Children's Miracle Network Classic transcript archive

PHIL STAMBAUGH: I'd like to welcome Jane Fader, the director of communications from The First Tee, and Matt Certo, president of WebSolvers and member of The First Tee of Central Florida Board of Directors. Welcome here to the Children's Miracle Network Classic. Jane, I guess you have a little announcement here.

JANE FADER: Sure. I'll be brief and then we'll get to Matt because he's got the exciting news certainly for this area.

I just wanted to mention some of you may be aware, but this week is a special week, thanks to Disney and the Toro Company of 50 participants from The First Tee from all over the country are being flown in tomorrow for a two to three day leadership forum called Future Leaders Forum.

This is the fourth year of the event. It's designed to help these students and these First Tee participants broaden their leadership skills, prepare for college and really explore and look at different career disciplines in the game of golf.

So on Friday they're going to spend a full day behind the scenes at Disney World experiencing the Disney leadership excellence, the Inside Track program, which is something that Disney is well known for, teach them leadership strategies and techniques from all sorts of different things from successful Walt Disney executives.

They're also going to learn about careers in golf from the PGA of America and Marriott Golf. Then on Saturday they'll be over here at the tournament getting behind the scenes tournament operations, golf course management, broadcast media marketing, sort of all aspects of the tournament, which is obviously a great opportunity for them.

This is the fourth year, so the ones that have gone through it before it's made a huge impact on them in terms of their career planning and planning for college and different things.

So we're excited that we're able to be here this week. If anybody is interested in checking out what the group is doing, we do have schedules available and you'll be welcome to talk to any of the young kids here.

We also just want to mention that Toro, who's been a long time sponsor of The First Tee has extended their relationship for the next three years. They're going to continue to be the official supplier of turf maintenance equipment for The First Tee. They also provide chapters with equipment and technologies through a programming, and they also do partner with us for the Future Leaders Forum.

Briefly, before I introduce and hand it over to Matt, The First Tee, I think many of you are aware, has over 200 chapters throughout the United States and six international locations. We are currently in more than 1700 elementary schools through a national school program teaching kids both nine core values in golf in the elementary schools as well as on military bases in the United States and 20 overseas.

So in the Orlando community we are in half of the schools, in Osceola, Seminole and Orange County, which is terrific. There are about 100 elementary schools we're in. We're reaching about 50,000 elementary kids per year teaching them golf and then teaching them The First Tee nine core values.

So thanks to Children's Miracle Network Classic who have heavily supported the schools in Osceola, and the Arnold Palmer Invitational who have heavily supported the one in Orange County. It's been a great entrance for The First Tee into the Orlando community.

But now I want to introduce Matt Certo who's going to talk about sort of taking that up a notch.

MATT CERTO: Thank you for having me. My name is Matt Certo. I am a small business owner here in town and pleased today to announce that Central Florida, the Orlando area, at long last has an official chapter of The First Tee.

So it's sort of an interesting back story about how this got started. I met Joe Barrow, president of First Tee National, sort of a happenstance meeting in Cincinnati. We were both invited up to meet with Ken Griffey, Jr. for various reasons when he was celebrating his 600th homerun. And I got to talking with Joe and said, "I'm in Orlando. I see The First Tee commercials all the time. I'd love to get involved. Who do I call?"

And Joe informed me that the community didn't have a chapter. So the three of us sort of chatted over that weekend, and I came back to town and had the privilege of gathering a number of different individuals, corporate leaders here in town, representatives from Disney, Arnold Palmer's design group, and also Golfweek; and we formed a board about two and a half or about a year ago we formed the actual board and filed for 501c3, and pleased today to announce that we're one of those 200 chapters now.

So we're very excited. You all know the merits of The First Tee, the core values that they preach, the programs that they engrain into young people, and we really wanted that to be a part of the Central Florida community.

We're going to be located at Hunter's Creek here in Kissimmee serving Orange, Osceola and Seminole Counties. We're very, very thankful to Hunter's Creek and OB Sports, their ownership group, who have graciously donated use of their facilities.

We're going to be offering The First Tee programs that Jane alluded to here in town. We are in the process of hiring an executive director, which we expect to have in place here in the next couple months.

And we, like I said, formed a board with some fund raising support from some of the groups you see in front of you. We look forward to building relationships with community partners here in town, tournaments like the Children's Miracle Network Classic and the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

And we also look forward to having our local participants participate in this great Future Leaders Forum that occurs every year at this time.

So we're really excited. We just felt like this was a no brainer for Orlando finally to get a chapter with all the TOUR players here in town, the concentration of athletes that call Orlando home. We think that the sky's the limit, and we're really excited to tell the community.

PHIL STAMBAUGH: Okay. We'll just open it up for questions.

Q. Matt, just curious in your conversations with Mr. Barrow or anyone else, why did it take so long to come to an area that the PGA TOUR loves??

MATT CERTO: Well, I might have Jane chime in on that, but I would tell you that there were some conversations over the years with different people. But it's really involved. It takes a lot of time and effort to really lay the groundwork, raise the funding. And we had a group that finally was able to put that together and sort of see it through.

JANE FADER: Yeah, I would just add to that, too, that there has been some great people involved in wanting to bring a chapter here for a long time. It's really a full time commitment to get the nonprofit and the status and the things that are required in place before you become an official chapter.

The First Tee certainly has learned over the years where you want a group to be in position to be successful. So this was just the right group that came to the table at this time and really put in that full time commitment to bring it to this point.

Q. (Indiscernible). Goes on in the local organization to whatever infrastructure you might provide on the front end, it's up to them to make sure?

JANE FADER: They are all independently owned, non profit chapters of their own, so yes, they are absolutely.

MATT CERTO: Right. And it is a challenge, and I really want to think The First Tee, their national office, because it does take a lot of work, but they were very helpful hand holders of ours, supporters.

And I really want to say that the groups The First Tee's name and what it does speaks for itself, and so there's been a lot of enthusiasm around the community. It's tough to argue with what this organization does. With so many people that love golf in this area, want to see it more accessible to people, we feel like the support is there in the community. We really do.

Q. When does the facility at Hunter's Creek become operational as a First Tee facility? Is there some infrastructure that needs to be put together or anything of that nature?

MATT CERTO: The facility is in place. As far as infrastructure, we expect to be in place early part of next year and ready to provide support.

So you want to and again, partners that we mentioned, like Toro, The First Tee has a network of groups that help you assemble equipment, put the right pieces together in place and then responding to where the community is, what they'd like to how they'd like to learn and grow for example, we've already had discussions with the Boys and Girls Club of Central Florida. That was one of our first calls was to Gary Cain, who leads that outfit here in town.

I was a Boys Club member growing up. So the discussions are underway about how to partner with them, even with transportation and some of their after school programs to the facility at Hunter's Creek. So a lot of the groundwork has been laid in that, and we expect the finishing touches to be in place by the first part of next year.

At the same time there's still a lot of work to do. We need to get adequate coaching in place through the national office and also make sure the equipment is ready. But by and large the facility is ready to go.

PHIL STAMBAUGH: Okay. Do we have anything else? Thank you very much. Good luck with everything.

MATT CERTO: Thank you.