GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – In five years as Executive Director of First Tee-Upstate, Michael Pius has made an impact on the chapter with new programs, adding more participants, and expanding in the region.

“Really my mission in life was to work with kids and be that mentor to them, too, and be that mentor that I had growing up,” said Pius.  

Pius, A PGA professional, leaned on those mentors growing up and it led to him attenting the golf management program at Penn State. But his work with First Tee, which began ten years ago, almost didn’t happen as he was considering leaving the golf industry. 

“One of my mentors said ‘well what about the First Tee’ and I said ‘well I’m actually interested in a full-time job’ and he said  ‘no this is a full-time job and something you can make a career of it,’” Pius recalled.

Just like that, he had a renewed zest for the field. Pius was the First Tee program director in Washington D.C. before coming to the Upstate. He went from writing lesson plans and conducting training courses to meeting with sponsors and donors to grow the program.

“I can see what it takes to be a successful chapter at the programming level and now being able to work with our board, work with our advisory councils, our volunteers to grow the program financially, too, so that we can expand into more counties.”

While Pius enjoys a hands-on approach to the mission, he credits his staff with the success First Tee-Upstate has had. 

“I kind of pass it off to them and empower them to make that impact on the kids’ lives. And then it’s my role to get the money so we can continue to fund it [and] continue to give kids experiences that they wouldn’t typically have.”

As Pius and the staff continue to broaden their reach, they’re hoping to bring those experiences to schools across the Upstate.

If you want to learn more about the First Tee-Upstate programs and how to get involved, click here.