teen golfers with new golf gear from Valspar Championship and FootJoy

Four First Tee - Tampa Bay teens were selected to design a pair of shoes for PGA pros.

“A spark of sunshine in this little rain cloud we got going on,” says 16-year-old McKenzie Kane to describe a special honor she and three other teens received at First Tee - Tampa Bay, a Tampa YMCA program. 

FootJoy© invited McKenzie along with Fabrice Laude, 16, Helena Noel, 17 and Jacob Gallman, 18, to design a pair of shoes to be professionally produced and worn by PGA TOUR players. “Honestly, I never thought in my lifetime I’d be designing golf shoes," shares Helena.

"Not everyone gets to have this opportunity. They get to design shoes,” says First Tee -Tampa Bay Program Director Morgan Litchfield. “They let them be creative. How awesome for them to see the finished product."

“The whole premise of the First Tee program is instilling leadership skills and life skills into kids through the game of golf," says McKenzie. "This game - it’s individual and it’s mental and you have to build up yourself mentally in order to prepare yourself and that’s exactly how life is, how the real world is."

Originally, the pros were going to present the custom-made shoes to the teens during March’s Valspar Championship week at Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort & Golf Club. But COVID-19 closures cancelled the event. With safety in mind, tournament officials figured out a way to pull off the surprise via special delivery. A video message from the pros accompanied the shoes. 

“To still have the opportunity to see our shoes and have a message from a PGA pro, it’s amazing,” shared McKenzie.

“I’m surprised. Shocked, very shocked to get the new shoes from the FootJoy Valspar collaboration,” said Fabrice. “I’m at a loss for words.”

“I did not know what to expect," recalled Helena. "I just saw the boxes and I was just so ecstatic. The boxes are cool by themselves, but being able to open it and just see how cool the shoes are was amazing.”

"It’s a tough situation right now, so it’s nice to have a little feel-good moment," says Morgan. "And for them to really do this during a time when I think everyone needs a some uplifting is just amazing."

Watch the special surprise covered by Spectrum Sports 360 on Bay News 9.