Marcus Freeman Pays it Forward

First Tee is celebrating its 25th anniversary this month, and over the years, it’s helped produce no shortage of game changers. 

One example is Marcus Freeman from First Tee – Greater Charlotte. He says the organization has helped him grow as a golfer and person. 

“Being a part of this community has helped me get through hard times. First Tee – Greater Charlotte was a safe place for me in 2020. During this time my grandfather was going through end stage pancreatic cancer and my family, like the world, was navigating COVID-19 and social distancing,” he says. 

The support he received from First Tee inspired Freeman to pay it forward. 

He completed more than 300 hours of volunteer work for First Tee in 2021. He collected more than 500 books for a First Tee book drive, and he’s a member of the chapter’s participant advisory council. Freeman has also volunteered for his swim team and tutored students in Japanese.

“An aspect of volunteer work that I enjoy is seeing the impact that giving to others can have,” he says. 

Freeman is one of 28 First Tee participants from across the country who’ll attend Innovators Forum this November in Dallas. The workshop empowers First Tee teens to develop a meaningful service project in their community focused on education, health or sustainability. Eight participants will be awarded scholarships totaling $32,000 after the event.

A junior at Palisades High School, Freeman is an accomplished violinist, and he won a medal for performing Japanese poems in 2019. Freeman aspires to study sports science in college. “I enjoy learning more about physical fitness and how the body works,” he says. Freeman spends his free time researching training tips and injury recovery. 

As he progresses as an athlete and student, Freeman says he’ll continue to use the lessons and qualities he’s learned at First Tee, including confidence. 

“When I first joined the program, I was a little shy when meeting new coaches, parents and other players. I spent time observing the instructors and how they interacted with all the different people coming and going. I saw them shake hands, make eye contact, smile and speak confidently,” he says.  

“I knew I wanted those skills as well. I pushed myself out of my comfort zone, and I started to apply what I observed to my own social skills. I practiced a strong handshake. I introduced myself to people I didn’t know, and I have met many interesting people, like professional golfer Davis Love III, all because I have improved in sharing my personality.” 

Learn more about Innovators Forum