Members of the Pittsburgh Passion Women’s Football team visited Propel Braddock and Propel Andrew Street high schools recently to talk with scholars about goal setting and the importance of following up with hard work.
Danielle Parson, senior director of community affairs for Propel Schools said the reason for having the players visit the schools was to learn about success, leadership, and teamwork in a different setting. “The visit gave them a different perspective on what we tell them daily, that they can be and do anything they set their minds to and work hard toward,” she said.
Five Passion players visited the schools. Linebacker/Defensive Back and Propel Andrew Street High School Alumna Miashanti Smith, Running back Gabrielle O’Neil, Offensive Guard/Defensive Tackle Michelle Smiley, and Offensive Guard/Defensive Tackle Erica Shoecraft. Coaches Teresa Conn and Sarah Niedermeyer also attended.
When Niedermeyer asked Braddock Hills seniors how many wanted to go to college or a trade school, chatter and giggles filled the room. “So I’m finishing up my college career,” Neidermeyer said. “I graduated (high school) back in 2012. It took me six years to get where I needed to go, most people do it in four.”
During her time as a student, she had five concussions. “Trying to get through school and trying to get through all that was not the easiest thing in the world to do. You will have setbacks and you are going to have to figure out a way to push through them,” she said. “You are going to do things that scare you. You are going to be in uncomfortable situations, but you will get there and you have to keep going. You cannot say, ‘I can’t do it.’ If you say you cannot, you never will. If you say can, you will get there.”
During the visit to Andrew Street, O’Neill shared her story and answered the students’ questions. Having relocated from Wisconsin, she is now in her second season with the Passion. “Last year I was a rookie and I wanted to come in and be a sponge and soak up everything.”
As a former star high school athlete, O’Neill said she had a big ego. “Coming in I wanted to make sure I was humble, and it was humbling to have a coach tell you, ‘I know you are fast, but you are going to need to tempo. You are going to need to break down. You are going to need to control that.’” O’Neill says those lessons were a great experience for her.
“I did not have many people, besides my mom, telling me you can do it. I had many people telling me what I could not do…it would be nice if every once in a while, you had somebody coming in telling you that you can do it.” O’Neill added, “even if there is one kid in the audience that vibed with us, know that we got you. We are for you. That goes a long way. My heart is with the kids.”
Shoecraft encouraged students saying, “Go for that wrestling team, go for that lacrosse team, try that weightlifting, do the competition. Everyone is going to doubt you at first, but once they see that you are committed and have that dedication, they are going to support you.”
Join Propel Schools on June 9 as we cheer on the Pittsburgh Passion! Tickets are available for staff, students and their families at Propel Montour High School, Propel Andrew Street, Propel Braddock Hills High School and the South Side administrative office. Kick off begins 6:30 p.m. at Joe P. DeMichela Stadium, 205 W. Allegheny Road, Imperial, PA 15126.