By TOM BONE
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Nate Smith wants to introduce new sports to children in McDowell County, and his first venture had a group of four of them swinging golf clubs at the old baseball field in Keystone.
With organizational help from a national program called Hook A Kid on Golf, Smith teamed up with local coach Clifford Smith to offer introductory level lessons.
“I couldn’t have done it without the help of the grandparent, parents and a good coach,” Nate Smith, a Northfork resident, said. “That’s what makes a program so great — people behind you, (both) local and out of town.”
Clifford Smith, a retired power company employee, said, “I like working with the kids on golf. It’s a great sport to learn. We hope to have more out next year.”
Hook a Kid on Golf, administered by the National Alliance for Youth Sports headquartered in West Palm Beach, Fla., provided instruction tips. Youngsters also receive and keep a starter set of golf clubs, a golf shirt, golf balls, a golf hat and other supplies.
This was provided “for a small fee through a small grant from the USGA Matching Funds of Golf,” Nate Smith said. “Having this program in the community is a plus.”
“Most youngsters have unlimited opportunities to play sports such as baseball, basketball and football, but only a select few get the opportunity to learn about golf.”
He believes the local outreach is the only Hook a Kid on Golf effort in the state of West Virginia. “Having McDowell County being on the map is great,” he said. He said the golf instruction is “open to all” in the county.
He said, “The game of golf is fun. It gives kids a positive outlook on new things — from the golf course to the classroom, to finishing school.”
“The effects and rewards from teaching the game of golf are not only beneficial to children, but also to the volunteers and surrounding communities.”
The four children in his first group were “very sharp on the game of golf and willing to learn,” he said.
All of the young golfers were given trophies from the program sponsored by T&N Trophies in Bluefield.
They received certificates from the Hook a Kid on Golf office.
Nate Smith is the founder and director of a new program, Grayhound Youth Sports, that aims at providing children with sports and education.
He said the misspelling of the program’s name was done on purpose. He said he chose the greyhound as a symbol because “he’s always on the move, running, doing something.”
He hopes to add basketball, soccer and perhaps Little League baseball to his program. “I see a vision coming of a community center, or a rec center,” he said.
“By giving the kids some time and working with them, they all have potential to go to college and be successful and responsible members of the community,” he said. “Reconnection starts in your community. We need to start it.”
He said that other youth programs in the Northfork areas “are working hard for the kids to make things better.” He said he has been networking with Clif Moore, county manager for the McDowell County Commission, “to get things started.”
He said about the golf outreach, “It’s been a hard road to do, but the job got done.”
To be eligible for participation in Hook a Kid on Golf, youngsters must have never played golf, not own a set of golf clubs and be between the ages of 8 and 15. They must also be “willing to learn,” Nate Smith said.
For more information, contact him at 304-862-3415.