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, aged 19 years old. Email: 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: Office: 209-544-1780

Alexa cook – Marketing and events coordinator 

Alexa Cook is a recent graduate from Utah State University and First Tee – Central Valley Alumna. She graduated with a degree in Marketing and Leadership Management. She has been involved with First Tee for several years. Alexa was a volunteer coach throughout high school and was co-president for Junior Council in 2015-2016. She is currently the Marketing and Events Coordinator and is excited to share the new branding of First Tee with each of you! Alexa also enjoys stepping in as a coach for First Tee Participants from time to time as well as planning fundraisers and other events. Email:


Pader Her – LPGA apprentice & Golf INSTRUCTOR

Pader is an LPGA Apprentice and has years of experience in the golf industry allowing her the insight needed to be an effective teaching golf professional and junior golf coach. She has previous experience as a volunteer coach at The First Tee Akron and as a student-athlete who has competed in Division 1 women’s collegiate golf at The University of Akron.  She can relate to many junior golfers and their aspirations to achieve their personal and professional goals.  Pader utilizes her teaching and coaching skills to help junior camp attendees get better at the game of golf. As an LPGA Teaching Professional Apprentice,  She has worked with many diverse groups of population such as youth, juniors, adults, seniors, and international students.

Courtney Cushenberry – Coach

Courtney was a participant of First Tee – Central Valley for 8 years before attending college. She became ACE certified with the help of our coach Shirley Gahm and was able to attend many national leadership opportunities. Courtney has never stopped golfing and can’t wait to continue to coach young participants. When she isn’t golfing or taking care of her kids Courtney loves to play with her cat or read. She and her husband also teach country swing dance lessons!



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 HighSchool 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.