AJGA Honor Villela, Suarez for Exemplary Volunteerism
Golfers receive President’s Youth Leadership
Award at Rolex Tournament of Champions
Angela Villela, of Sylmar, Calif., and Joseph Suarez,
of Richmond, Va., were given the 2007 President’s
Youth Leadership Award Thursday, July 5 during the
Rolex Tournament of Champions at The Ohio State University
Golf Club in Columbus, Ohio.
This award was created to recognize one boy and one
girl AJGA member who demonstrated leadership, character
and community service through their involvement with
the USGA–AJGA Youth Leadership Club – a
joint initiative founded in 2006 to further develop
junior golfers through volunteerism. In the award’s
inaugural year, Katrina Delen-Briones, of San Francisco,
and Adam Michel, of Orinda, Calif., were honored for
their efforts at their local The First Tee chapters.
President's Youth Leadership
Award winners Angela Villela and Joseph Suarez
with AJGA Board of Directors President Gayle
Champagne and USGA President Walter Driver.
“We hope that the USGA’s support of the
AJGA and this award will continue to set the tone for
people who are leaders in their communities, in their
schools, and particularly in golf,” USGA President
Walter Driver said during the Rolex Dinner of Champions. “All
of you in this room are going to have a rich career
in golf, however it goes, so I urge you to give back
to the game.”
Villela, 16, earned this honor through her commitment
to the Andres Y Maria Cardenas Foundation, which donates
money to high school graduates going on to college.
She also volunteers for the Special Olympics at Vista
Valencia Golf Course and started an after-school program
called “Growing the Game” with the help
of her father, Gus Villela, and her instructor, Rudy
Garcia. Additionally, Villela organized the effort
to raise funds for equipment and negotiated an agreement
with Shoal Canyon Golf Course for her high school golf
team to play and practice at no cost. The result was
a 10-0 season, a league championship and an average
improvement of 25 strokes per nine-hole round by her
“I didn’t do this because I wanted to
be recognized, I did it because it had to be done,” Villela
said in her acceptance speech. “Tonight is not
about me. This night is about growing the game of golf.
It’s about giving and not expecting anything
Suarez started giving his time as a 12-year-old. By
the time he was 16, he was supporting The First Tee
of Richmond and numerous other local organizations,
including Richmond’s Hook-a-Kid on Golf program,
his church and Challenge Golf League. In the past three
years, Suarez has volunteered hundreds of hours, including
nearly 500 hours this year alone.
“I’m blessed to have had great support
from the time I started hitting golf balls,” Suarez
said upon receiving the award. “I’d like
to encourage everyone to help out in your respective
communities not just for material rewards. It’s
a great feeling to help out around the community you
By receiving this honor, Villela and Suarez will each
receive four tickets to a future U.S. Open of their
choice and access to the USGA hospitality tent during
the U.S. Open. They also received an automatic entry
into the 2007 Rolex Tournament of Champions - one of
the most prestigious junior golf events in the country.
About the USGA
The USGA is the national governing body of golf in
this country and Mexico, a combined territory that
includes more than half the game’s golfers and
The USGA’s most visible role is played out each
season in conducting 13 national championships, including
the U.S. Open, U.S. Women’s Open and U.S. Senior
Open. Ten additional USGA national championships
are exclusively for amateurs, and include the U.S.
Amateur and the U.S. Women’s Amateur.
The USGA also writes the Rules of Golf, conducts equipment
testing, maintains an official Handicap System and
administers an ongoing “For the Good of the Game” grants
program, which has allocated more than $56 million
over 10 years to programs that seek to grow the game. For
more information about the USGA, visit www.usga.org.