Staff & Coaches



In 2001, John Griston retired from the U.S. Navy after 20 years of honorable service. John moved from Southern California to Modesto in 2003, where he worked as a golf professional at Modesto Municipal, Dryden Park, and Creekside golf courses from 2003 to 2005. He began as a volunteer coach with The First Tee of Modesto (now known as First Tee – Central Valley) and by 2009 he went on to receive First Tee Coach Recognition. John is currently our Executive Director and provides leadership & direction for our chapter. He is a Certified Chapter Trainer in First Tee Network. John has a daughter, Chanel.                Email: [email protected] Office: 209-544-1780 


Kayla Michele Deigan (formerly Grey) is a Modesto native, having attended and played golf for Fred C. Beyer High School (2006-2009) and Modesto Junior College (2009-2010). Kayla has been working in the golf industry for over 13 years, starting with volunteering at junior golf clinics held at the local driving range when she was 16. She worked her way up from Pro Shop Attendant to Management but knew she wanted to give back to the golf community in another way. First Tee – Central Valley came in at the perfect time! Deigan became a Level I Coach in 2016. Since then, she has completed her training to become a Recognized First Tee Coach and also became a Certified Golf Coach/Club Fitter with U.S. Kids Golf. Kayla is now our Program Manager and resides in Modesto with her husband Chad, son Conor and pitbull Mac. Email: [email protected] IG: @coachkayladeigan

Shawnee Martinez – Director of INSTRUCTion & Operations

Shawnee is our resident expert for golf instruction, She has years of experience in the golf industry allowing her the insight needed to be an effective teaching golf professional and assist us with chapter operations. coach. She has previous experience as a collegiate golfer at Long Beach State. As a student-athlete, she knows what it takes to complete goals in school, life and golf.  She can relate to many junior golfers and their aspirations to achieve their personal and professional goals.  Shawnee grew up on the golf courses that we provide programs at and is a popular local golf figure in Central Valley. Shawnee qualified to play on the LPGA Symetra Tour back in 2019.


John C. is a recognized First Tee Coach.  He is the Program location site manager for Merced/Atwater.  He has built a great relationship with Merced G.C.C and Rancho Del Rey G.C.   His favorite thing to do is spend time with family and friends. What John loves most about The First Tee is “Incorporating values that will last a lifetime!”.  He is married to Cheryl and has a son Scotty that is a First Tee participant.


Charles is the assistant site manager for Merced/Atwater location and a nationally recognized First Tee Coach.  He loves spending time on the course and with family members.  He is retired and spends a lot of his time coaching the kids in the program.



Shirley enjoys playing golf at Spring Creek and being a part of the ladies club golf group there and is a nationally recognized First Tee Coach since 2006.  She mentors our Eagle certified participants through ACE level to become certified nationally by First Tee Headquarters.


Tim is a recognized First Tee Coach for the past seven years and helps us out at our events. He is a teacher and assistant girls golf coach at Enochs High School as well as a parent to two First Tee participants, Jordan and Zachary. Tim is married to Robin Williams and enjoys spending time outdoors with his family.

Sarah Ramsdell – PLAYer coach & alumni

Sarah is 20 years old and has been with First Tee – Central Valley for 14 years. Her favorite thing about First Tee is the people! “Since I started the program, I have made so many friends. I still talk to people who were in the program with me and I even work with a few. I also love all of my coworkers. Our staff here at the First Tee is incredible and I am so happy to have a great group of coaches.”

Here is what Sarah had to say when we interviewed her:

“I started the First Tee program when I was 7 years old. Since then I have become Ace Certified and a First Tee lead coach. I also golfed all 4 years of high school for the Girl’s Varsity team at Gregori High School. After completing 4 years of high school I moved on to Modesto Junior College where I played 2 years of golf for their Women’s Golf team. During my time at MJC, my teammates and I won our league and placed 3rd at the state tournament. I have since graduated from MJC with a AA in Political Science and I have continued my studies at Sonoma State University.

Daniel Pena – Player coach & Alumni

Daniel went to Johansen High School and played golf there. He then went on to study at and play golf for the University of the Pacific. He first started playing golf when he was 10 years old and joined First Tee shortly after that. He then started to play in JGANC and NCGA tournaments when he was 12 years old. “First Tee helped me build a foundational understanding and love for the game of golf, which within the game contains many life lessons.” We’re excited to have Daniel on board with us!

Collette Sommerville – PLAYer coach & alumni
Samantha smedshammer – PLAYer coach & alumni
chris sequeira – LEVEL II coach
cRAIG JULSGARD – vounteer coach & BOARD MEMBER
dylan sharma – PLAYer coach & alumni
erik hott – junior coach & active participant
ben cimoli – voLunteer coach
rene martinez – volunteer coach & parent
chad neslen – volunteer coach & parent
Julie Kaley – volunteer & Parent
lUKE SANNY – voLunteer coach
ARTHUR REYES – voLunteer coach
Keith Miller – voLunteer coach
Mark Mercado – Volunteer Coach & Grandparent