Pro golfers help train youth for Ontario Aboriginal Summer Games

CALEDONIA – Professional golfers Steve Tooshkenig and Jesse Smith will be teaching youth from all across Ontario the fundamentals of golf in preparation for the 2016 Ontario Aboriginal Summer Games competition (OASG).

The Games provide athletes with development and competition opportunities that will prepare them for the upcoming 2017 North American Indigenous Games (NAIG). The Aboriginal Sport and Wellness Council of Ontario (ASWCO) is hosting the 2016 Ontario Aboriginal Summer Games (OASG) for the first time.

“The kids will learn the fundamentals of several different sports,” said Tooshkenig, from the ASWCO. “This morning we’ll teach them golf, but they will also be learning rifle shooting, lacrosse and more today too. Today, the first day, the youth learn basic skills — we teach them the basic skills of all these sports and then the competition takes place on Thursday [July 21].”

Aboriginal athletes born between 1998 and 2003 will compete in the games from July 19 to 21 where first, second and third medals will be awarded. All the sports include; athletics; archery; canoe; kayak; golf; lacrosse; rifle shooting; and swimming.

Smith, a professional golfer who tours the world participating in tournaments, said that he is excited to be a part of teaching youth the fundamentals of golf.

“Steve and I have worked together on other youth and golf clinics before,” said Smith. “He asked me to be a part of this and I’m really excited to help out and see the different skill these youth have.”

Tooshkenig said that he is expecting to see some youth participate who are at a grassroots, or a very beginner level and others who are almost up to the elite level.

“Thats what you do in the sport field. Myself and Jesse [Smith] will figure out the different levels of skill the youth have and group them into the learning group or the high level group, and we will begin or teaching from there. Five buses of youth came in, we should have around 200 athletes participating.”

“We want to make sure the youth learn the game and growing some more interest around it,” said Tooshkenig. “Helping our youth get involved in sport, something we’ve always been involved in, and seeing it grow outside of Six Nations is what we want to see happen.”

Smith said that he is excited to help teach at these games because he remembers what golf has meant to hi throughout his life.

“Golf has given me a lot of different opportunities in life and I want to be able to create opportunities for these youth as well,” he said. “What happens on the golf course kind of happens in life and if I can relay some of what I’ve learned through golf to these youth, that’s what I want to do.”

Smith said that if he were to give someone new to golf some advice, he would tell them to “Have fun with it. When it’s fun it creates interest and from there it ripples out to their friends, family and other relationships. It’s also really important to learn the fundamentals — everybody has their own personally and play style but if we can teach them the basics it becomes a building block for them to move forward.”

Smith also said that golf is a game of honesty and integrity.

“You govern yourself on the course through honesty and integrity — those are two very important aspects of golf,” he said. “Just don’t forget to have fun.”

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