SPARTANBURG COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – From being a local standout to receiving nationwide recognition, Jonathan Roe is ready to represent the First Tee-Upstate chapter at the Game Changers Academy late July. 

“It was just so cool to see my name on that list with a bunch of junior golfers and a bunch of First Tee participants,” Roe said.

“Jonathan is just a standout,” added Michael Pius, Executive Director of First Tee-Upstate. “He’s been a standout from the very beginning. Just taking advantage of everything we offer [and] he’s grown within it. [He’s] grown as a golfer playing on high school golf team and also just being a great kid.”

Roe, who’s entering his sophomore year of high school, will join 71 others from across the country to attend the First Tee Game Changers Academy in Philadelphia. It’s a five-day event centered around teaching diversity.

“It’s not only a golf academy, but it’s also inclusion and social justice and equality,” said Roe, who was the 2021 First Tee-Upstate Male Participant of the Year. “So it will also be a life-skills academy…Diversity is definitely a topic that is important in life.”

It’s a parallel that can be found in the sport itself.  

“When you show up at a golf course and you’re a single you’re probably going to meet someone for the first time,” said Pius. “You don’t know where they’re from. You get to know them for four and a half hours and get to appreciate their background. And I think our kids need that more than ever.”

It’s a chance to be recognized on a national scale within the organization, opening up doors for additional opportunities as well, such as college scholarships and admission to special golf events.

“We’re excited to see what he learns and what he can take back and share with other kids here in the Upstate,” Pius added.

“Right now I’m hoping to get a scholarship at a college in golf, but if that doesn’t work out I’m hoping to go to College of Charleston on an academic scholarship to be a meteorologist,” Roe said of his long-term plans.

Roe plays for the golf team at Boiling Springs High School. And he’s the first Upstate participant to be selected to the academy, where he’ll also get to play golf at some of Philly’s most historic clubs.

The academy runs from July 19-23. For more on the Game Changers Academy, click here.