Golf is where Tyler Smies ’10 feels at home.
As a high school senior, Tyler simply wanted a college where he could earn a well-respected degree, grow in his faith—and make the golf team. Calvin fit all three.
“I graduated from high school with no real direction on a vocation or a degree,” he admits. “Since then, I’ve been blessed to be a part of seven years with Calvin’s golf program: four years as a student letter-winner and the past three as an assistant coach. It’s been an amazing experience.”
More importantly, Tyler has transitioned his love of the sport into a full-time career. As executive director of a small nonprofit, The First Tee of West Michigan, he leads a team that teaches children and teens life skills, core values and healthy habits through the game of golf. Since establishing the west Michigan chapter in 2011, the organization has reached more than 400 young people.
So how did Tyler go from directionless high school grad to nonprofit leader? Turns out, his three criteria for college fit together pretty well.
“My faith before going to Calvin wasn’t on the right foundation,” he says. “I could kick some butt in Bible trivia … but [faith] didn’t affect my daily life. I relied heavily on people at Calvin like Brian Bolt, the head golf coach, for guidance and encouragement, and they helped me shift into a ‘walk the talk’ faith in Christ.”
The opportunities provided through Tyler’s business major brought his future into focus.
“I interned at two different nonprofits during my senior year, and I knew that was where God was calling me. When the opportunity arose to start a nonprofit that helps young people through golf, I grabbed it and ran.”
Now, Tyler has the chance to model Christ’s love to young people in the same way that he was mentored at Calvin.
“It’s been a fantastic ride, and God has really blessed the organization and the impact it is having. I have an opportunity to advance His kingdom here through His little ones, every single day. The First Tee is really relationship building with kids at its core—we just happen to do it around the game of golf.”
How you spend your time in college is probably going to look a little different from how you spent it in high school (goodbye study hall!) Check out these schedules from real freshmen to get a feel for how your day might look at Calvin.