Initiatives
From runway to fairways for Miss Ohio Teen USA Isabelle Jedra
01 Jul 2019

From runway to fairways for Miss Ohio Teen USA Isabelle Jedra

By Cliff Hickman
CantonRep.com sports writer

CANTON Lexington’s Isabelle Jedra has already conquered the runway on her way to becoming Miss Ohio Teen USA 2019. Now she’s looking to help the youth of central Ohio conquer the fairways and she is starting the process as a volunteer at The First Tee of Canton.

Jedra’s interest in helping start a First Tee chapter in her area is no surprise considering her long history with the sport. She has been holding a club since she was 4 years old and is hoping to bring the values she learned on the golf course to students in the Lexington area.

“First Tee teaches kids a lot,” Jedra said. “You learn a lot about respect and responsibility. It also stresses the importance of discipline.”

Jedra is starting that journey in Canton. She sent out requests to observe and volunteer with several First Tee programs. The Canton chapter was the only one to respond. That couldn’t have worked out better for her and her family.

“I was actually born here in Canton,” Isabelle’s mother, Stephanie Jedra, said. “We moved when I was young after my dad got a job at the steel mill in Mansfield. We still come back here a lot because I have a lot of family in the area. It’s an exciting opportunity for us.”

On Isabelle’s first day as a volunteer, the Jedras discovered that one of those relatives is The First Tee of Canton Outreach Coordinator Mindy Lenigan.

“We were so happy to see her,” Isabelle said. “We knew that she worked in Canton but we didn’t know it was here. That was a nice surprise.”

Isabelle helps teach a class for young girls in Canton at the First Tee course once a week this summer as she learns the inner workings of First Tee.

“I’ve liked teaching a lot,” Isabelle said. “I was really nervous the first week but it’s gone really well. The kids know way more about everything than I thought. They are great.

This experience is expected to lead to the birth of a First Tee chapter in the Lexington area. The Jedras have a long history with the Lexington High School golf team.

“My sister was actually on the first girls team that Lexington ever had,” Isabelle said. “She got a scholarship to golf at Indiana so I got to a lot of the Big 10 Tournaments and follow her career. She was a great person to look up to. I joined the team and was the youngest player in the lineup as a freshman.”

A First Tee chapter would likely strengthen the program that her sister was a key factor in starting.

“I really want to be able to do this,” Isabelle said. “I’m going to be very involved in the whole process. It would really be cool to tie in with my sister. She would be one of the founding members of the high school team and I would be a founding member of the youth program.”

The plan is still in the early stages but coming together. They are looking to draw kids from central Ohio who can’t make it to Columbus.

“We have a few ideas,” Stephanie Jedra said. “I’m a fifth grade teacher at the elementary school that has the First Tee Program rights so we’re looking at starting it in conjunction with that.”

Starting the program will be a good way for Isabelle to stay involved in golf. She had an offer to continue golfing in college at Defiance, but has opted to attend the University of Cincinnati to pursue a degree in communications. 

“Ultimately,” she said, “I’d love to be a broadcaster with the Golf Channel. That’s my dream job.”

College and the golf program aren’t the only things on her mind. She also plans to make the most of being Miss Ohio Teen USA before giving up the crown in November.

“I’m hoping to visit some more children’s hospitals before my time is up,” she said. “I’m also going to be doing a ribbon cutting for a new local coffee shop in my hometown. I have a lot I still want to do.”

She has a big trip coming up later this summer as part of her Miss Ohio Teen USA opportunities.

“I’m actually going to go down to Georgia to take part in something called the Atlanta Market,” she said. “It’s kind of like New York Fashion Week. I get to model for a big dress company. It’s very exciting.”

She hopes to return to Canton to help with First Tee next summer, in addition to starting the program in the Lexington/Mansfield area.

“I hope other areas see what we are doing and pick it up in central Ohio,” Isabelle said. “It’d be cool to see places like Ontario and Mansfield start First Tee programs. Kids can learn so much about values here. It’d be nice to see more kids have access to those resources.”