February 10, 2015

This date in history

On February 10, 2006, Tiger Woods cut the ribbon to officially launch the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif. Many special guests were in attendance, including former U.S. president Bill Clinton and California first lady Maria Shriver. As we enter our 10th year in Orange County, the Tiger Woods Learning Center has seen over 130,000 students explore STEM classes ranging from rocketry and engineering to robotics and aerospace.

We’ve come a long way since 2006, so I asked some of the staff in attendance what they remember most about the experience.

“My most memorable moment from the TWLC launch was talking with so many people who were supportive of our mission. It was overwhelming and extremely emotional to see their faces and listen to their first impressions of the activities that the kids were involved in. Knowing that you are part of something life-changing is an amazing feeling.”
– Kathy Bihr, VP and Executive Director, TWLC

“Bill Clinton spoke at the event and afterward agreed to film an interview with our house crew. I was the one who interviewed him. It was such a fun experience to chat with a former President about how impressed he was with our program.

“The second thing that stands out for me technically happened the day before. Ed Bradley and 60 Minutes were filming a segment on the opening as part of a profile we were doing on Tiger. That morning Tiger was giving a tour, and it was the first time he watched students come into the building for classes. It really hit home how real this was – seeing our first students pull up, hop off their school bus and high five Tiger on the way into this brand new place. We’d spent years planning and building up to this moment. It was fantastic.”
– Emily Taylor, VP, Communications and Marketing

“Seeing Tiger give Earl a private tour of the facility before the grand opening. I remember Tiger’s puppy was there too, running around on the brand new sod. Tiger was so honored to share this with his dad, who was nearing the end of his battle with cancer. It was very emotional and so inspirational.”
– Jin Thatcher, VP, Operations and Administration

“I shed tears of pride that day, having watched Tiger’s vision go from a blueprint to a state-of-the-art, 35,000-square-foot facility to benefit local kids. I remember standing at the back of the crowd listening to former President Clinton talk about the impressive work Tiger was doing at such a young age and feeling immensely proud to be a member of his team.”
– Marci Gentzkow, Sr. Director, Communications

“The path from idea to reality is truly one of my favorite memories of the launch of the Tiger Woods Learning Center. A committed group of dedicated people worked tirelessly to steer Tiger’s vision and create an amazing place for youth to learn and grow. It was a fantastic milestone, and one I’m proud to have been a part of.”
Michelle Bemis, VP Events and Business Development

“I remember being a little overwhelmed with all that was going on; there were people everywhere. I mostly remember being very proud of what we would be doing for children. It was great seeing Tiger and Clinton walk around with students sharing what they were learning in the program. I also remember being quite moved my Maria Shiver’s speech and even tearing up. It was an amazing day. To see where we have come from that day continues to amaze me.”
– Gyla Bell, Sr. Program Director, OC

“I remember the look in the students’ faces. At the time, the majority of the kids never dreamt of going to college or having a beautiful place to go after school where the instructors actually cared about them and their success. Today, students that have gone through TWLC have now graduated college and are mentors and role models to their younger peers. It is inspiring to see the confidence levels of these young adults grow as they achieve their dreams of a higher education and succeed in their adult lives.”
Stacy Stark-Bloch, Associate VP, Events

“I remember hearing the speeches by Tiger and President Clinton and thinking to myself: this learning center is going to be an amazing resource for young people and the local community.”
– Doug Luong, Computer Clubhouse Manager

“During the ribbon cutting, I recall the faces of the young people we were serving, and I knew we were about to change the trajectory of not only their lives but their entire family. That day, I could feel the profound impact our programs would have on the community. “
– Cristina Fernandez, Sr. Programs Director, Earl Woods Scholarship Program

“I remember Tiger’s speech and his genuine desire to help underserved youth with a chance to go to college. He was so proud of his foundation, the work he and his father had started, and finally seeing the learning center come to fruition that day. It was a day that changed Anaheim, Orange County, and California FOREVER!
– Roman Gonzales, Senior Manager Golf and Recreation