George Bush Shell Oil
Volunteer of the Year Award 2017

Nominee Information: William “Billy” Brent IIIBilly Brent
5912 Bell Ridge Trail, Pensacola, FL  32526;
Ph: (850) 221-2162; e-mail: BBrent3@att.net

Reason for the nomination:

William “Billy” Brent has been a volunteer with The First Tee of Northwest Florida since the day we opened the doors at our first programming site, Osceola Golf Course—14 years ago this year.  But he is much more than just a volunteer—he has been a Board Member, an Annual Donor, Mentoring Program Director and a friend to so many young people inside The First Tee and outside as well—and has privately funded multiple college scholarships for deserving at-need students from our area to attend college. A talented and accomplished golfer in his own right, he has long been involved in minority and junior golf circles as a teacher and mentor with the Par Four Golf Club. 

In his personal life, “Coach Billy” is a model for what we would hope our children would grow up to become.  He began his adult life by joining the U.S. Army and serving with honor and distinction in Vietnam.  Through his professional career he has been an area manager for Goodyear, a District Manager of the Pensacola News Journal and played professional golf for five years.  He is a genuinely funny and intelligent man, and a long-time member of the Toastmasters of America.  He has served in the past as a volunteer mentor for Navy youth at Saufley Field NAS, in Escambia County Schools and on the Board of Directors of ARC Gateway—The Association of Retarded Citizens.  While volunteering for us in the early days, he still worked 40 hours per week as an IT Specialist/Computer Programmer for the U.S. Government at Naval Air Station Pensacola and is also a certified Mediator, EEO Counselor and Advisor and a Union Official—but he always made time after work and on the weekends for The First Tee of Northwest Florida. He has never taken a dime for his teaching; in fact, he has spent a great deal of his own money in support of our programs and our juniors and continues to do so even to the present day.

Following our chapter’s founding in 2004, he immediately stepped forward and volunteered his support of Adrian Stills to assist with the delivery of The First Tee Golf Skills and Life Skills curriculum, and over the course of the last five years he has never missed a class.  Recently, after playing in a weekend golf tournament out of state, he drove through the night and early morning back to Pensacola to attend a voluntary day-long coach training session—and then spent two hours that afternoon teaching and mentoring our First Tee participants.  Such is his passion for the First Tee and for our junior golfers.  Coach Billy is a crowd favorite, always teaching with conviction and enthusiasm, with a great smile and animated personality.  He truly has a unique gift: To always be able to communicate on the level of his students, no matter their age, ability or walk of life.  His student’s ability to retain the concepts that he shares (and I say this as a former college professor with over a decade of teaching experience) is astounding.  His teaching methods are so well delivered and received, that when he asks students at the end of each lesson to repeat the lessons, virtually all students are able to do so perfectly.  A parent who has had two children in the program for the last several years recently sent me a text message out of the blue that simply said: “Coach Billy is The Man.”  I couldn’t agree more, hence his nomination as our Volunteer of the Year.

Recently Coach Billy’s life has seen many personal challenges develop…his beautiful wife Gloria recently had a stroke and requiring round the clock care.  Billy himself has had a number of service related personal health challenges as well—no-one would blame him for retiring.  But no such surrender from Coach Billy: he recently stepped down from the Board of Directors after almost a decade of service, with the promise that he would continue to serve as a volunteer coach for our Life Skills Experience classes—service where he feels he can most effectively impact our youth with the time he has to give.  14 years of impact; thousands of lives touched, hundreds of lives changed--with hopefully many, many more to come.

Chapter Information: The First Tee of Northwest Florida;
Submitted by: Marty Stanovich, Executive Director; Phone: (850) 456-7010; E-mail: mstanovich@thefirstteenwflorida.org