From the beam to the green

Terese Romeo wasn't always swinging a golf club. Before she hit her first ball, she was swinging from the uneven bars at the gymnasium.

That all changed with one injury.

"I had an unfortunate accident on the balance beam in gymnastics," said Romeo. "I guess it was kind of the end of my career. [It] started hurting more and more, and I was really starting to get into golf and being successful. That's what I wanted to do. I wanted to take that to the next level, so after two wrist surgeries freshman and sophomore year, I decided to take golf to the next level and kind of leave gymnastics behind."

With the help of The First Tee of Tampa Bay, Terese picked up her golf game fast. She won both districts and regionals three years in a row.

"It was definitely something I knew I could do if I put enough work into it," said Romeo. "I think, through The First Tee, they instilled in me some perseverance and getting through the injuries and keeping my mental state healthy and being able to recover as fast as I could so that I could be back on the golf course."

"We saw her through that when she had the cast and all that," said Ian Baxter, the executive director of The First Tee of Tampa Bay. "It's just how she maintained such a great spirit and attitude about it. (She) never got down on herself, always stayed really committed to what she wanted to do and reach her goals."

Terese will take her golf game to Georgia this fall. It's there where she live out one of her goals: Playing college golf at Mercer University.

"That's going to be tough for all of us," said Terese's father Ron. "But, we're going to be proud of her and she'll be home from time to time."

And Mercer is one step closer to another dream: Playing on the LPGA Tour.

"I think I really just want to focus on playing college golf and take things one step at a time," said Romeo. "I think that it's not too far of a goal, but it's definitely a goal and a dream."

The First Tee of Tampa Bay is a Tampa YMCA program. This year, The First Tee of Tampa Bay and the Gary and Donna Koch Family Foundation will give out more than $25,000 in college scholarships to eight deserving students. Terese Romeo was one of those recipients.

For more information, you can visit The First Tee's website at: www.thefirstteetampabay.org

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