By Brittney Benjamin
First days always have a surreal feeling to them, don’t they?
Whether it’s the first day of school or the first day at a new job, they always seem to bring a familiar, stomach-twisting mix of excitement and nerves. That’s how I felt driving through the gates at Quaker Ridge and taking in the beautiful green landscape.
It was not my first day at the club, but it was my first day there as the Program Coordinator and a Momentum alumnus. (I worked with Chef Joe last summer as part of the inaugural class.) As nervous as the new Fellows might have been, I think I was about five times as nervous. I wanted everything to flow as smoothly as the plan that I put together with Nancy Degnan, my supervisor and mentor.
As Nancy and I prepared for everyone to arrive, we were treated to the same welcoming atmosphere we grew accustomed to last year. Once the fellows all arrived, we got to know each other while enjoying a delicious continental breakfast prepared by the kitchen staff. As the morning progressed, we talked about the history of Quaker Ridge and the goals of our program, and we learned more about the fellows’ talents and interests, which include jiu-jitsu, volleyball, music, and acting, to name a few. Despite my nerves, it was a pleasant start.
Things got a little more intense when we started the icebreaker activities and challenges, like Simon Says with a twist. I quickly got to see the fellows’ competitive sides, evidence of how driven they are. Later on, they showed their thoughtful and compassionate sides during our first career lunch, which featured General Manager Bob Musich, Chef Joe Day, Tennis Pro Jelena Jakovljevic, and golf pro Mario Guerra. We chatted with the staff about their interests, their upbringings, and their views on world events.
After lunch, the fellows headed out with the golf and tennis pros for lessons, which included forehand and backhand tennis grips and learning how to drive a golf cart. While my tennis skills were not as impressive as I remembered from last summer, I had a great time working on my game and watching the fellows show off their skills.
After weeks of planning, it was nice to see my hard work and vision play out. As a fellow, I didn’t know how much had to happen behind the scenes for everything to run smoothly. While it was a little unnerving at first to be on the other side of things, I am very glad I got to be a part of the planning process. It was rewarding to see how quickly the new fellows were able to adjust to their environment.
I am looking forward to what the next few weeks have to offer!
Brittney Benjamin is Program Coordinator for the Quaker Ridge Golf Club Fellows Program this summer. She is a rising sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania.