Priscilla Morales shares something that many of our long-term coaches often say: “I grew up in Project Coach.”
Priscilla joined the Project Coach team in 9th grade. “I started out shy and uncertain in big groups with other teens,” Priscilla recently explained. In spite of her nerves, Priscilla quickly identified a strength, an early sign of the grit and determination that would carry her through the next four years. “I had a strong and confident voice with children,” she said. “I started out as a sports coach, but then convinced co-founders Sam Intrator and Don Siegel, as well as Program Director Jo Glading-DiLorenzo that we should start a dance program.”
Soon after, a dance program was born. To this day, Project Coach’s dance program continues to attract both elementary and high-school aged youth hoping to pursue both art and sport. Interestingly, the dance program became much more than Priscilla’s brainchild; indeed, it had a mirror effect. “One of the major highlights of my time with Project Coach [was] seeing the growth in my students on the dance team - the persistence and motivation the kids had to practice the steps and dances - and to perform,” she said, “[It] was amazing to me and really gave me motivation to have that same motivation and persistence myself.”
That motivation carried into other aspects of Priscilla’s participation in Project Coach. In addition to being an avid dancer and role model coach, Priscilla maintained strong commitment to her academics. She took advantage of the academic supports Project Coach provides, including college preparation seminars and weekly tutoring by Smith College students. “I can honestly say I’m not sure I would have gone to college without Project Coach,” Priscilla said.
This month (December 2018), Priscilla will graduate from college with a BA in Medical Science from Bay Path University. In her first year at Bay Path, she employed the same conviction and confidence she brought with her to Project Coach as a 9th grader. She applied to the Springfield City Health Board and ultimately served alongside longtime Project Coach champion Dr. Jeffrey Scavron. Pursuing this experience, as well as her ongoing commitment to academic excellence truly encapsulates a Project Coach ethos: we coach, seek out coaching and mentorship from others, and apply principles from both experiences to the self.
Today, Priscilla mentors the next generation of Project Coach college students studying Health Sciences. Further, she serves as a community researcher in our Corporation for National and Community Service grant awarded to Project Coach to study the transition of Springfield youth into young adulthood. We are proud of Priscilla’s achievement, but even more, we are proud to have a place in the ongoing story of her life as a successful young woman and leader living and working within the Springfield community.