Tom Nickel – Local Teen Achieves Top Certification from National Youth Development Organization First Tee

By Lindsley Stys (11//26/2019)

Thomas Nickel from First Tee of Howard County among 23 National Ace-Certified Recipients in 2019

Columbia, MD (November 26, 2019) – Thomas Nickel from First Tee of Howard County has achieved Ace certification, the highest level of certification from First Tee, a national youth development organization dedicated to impacting young people by building character and instilling life-enhancing values through the game of golf.

Thomas is one of 23 participants this year, and one of 157 since 2006, to achieve Ace certification. To become Ace-certified, participants must complete four major projects – Community Service, Career, Educational Opportunities and Golf – which are submitted and reviewed by a national committee. It is a notable feat and the honorable culmination of hours of volunteering, goal-setting, preparation and practice.

“Completing the Ace program took a lot of time, work and self-discipline, but was definitely worth it as I learned more about my golf game, my future and myself through the unique opportunities involved. Beyond that, I discovered how much fun volunteering could be, and feel like I found my calling when I started coaching younger First Tee kids,” said Nickel.

“We could not be more proud of Thomas. Less than 1 percent of First Tee participants achieve Ace certification, so he is now among a small, elite group of junior golfers nationwide with this distinction” commented Don Van Deusen, executive director of First Tee of Howard County.

Ace certification is the final step and the pinnacle of the First Tee program. Participants can work towards Ace certification after completing PLAYer, Par, Birdie and Eagle level certifications. The certification process requires a higher level of personal planning through First Tee’s Life Skills Experience that includes interpersonal communication, self-management, goal-setting, self-coaching and resiliency skills — building an important foundation for success in higher education and career planning.

Nickel has been a participant at First Tee of Howard County since age eight, and is active on the speech and debate team, a capella group and choir, and is also a school ambassador at Loyola Blakefield where he is a junior.

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