Never be ashamed of where you are in life. Work on your weaknesses and have them become your strengths.
As a part of our series about the work ethic lessons we can learn from professional athletes, I had the pleasure of interviewing Priscilla Frederick Loomis.
Priscilla Frederick Loomis is a 31-year-old Professional Track and Field High Jumper representing the country of Antigua and Barbuda. She was born in Queens, NY, moved to South Jersey with her mother at the age of 5 and started Track and Field at the age of 6. She attended Paul VI High School in Haddonfield, NJ where she began to flourish in sport as well as dance and drama club.
After breaking her High Jump High School record, winning County Championships and State Championships, she qualified for High School Nationals and became the 4th best high jumper in the USA. Priscilla received an athletic scholarship to St. John’s University in Queens, NY where she majored in Communications with a focus in Television & Film, combining both her passions of Sport and Entertainment.
While at St. John’s, Priscilla became the High Jump School record holder, 7x NCAA Competitor, Big East Champion and 4x MVP. In 2012, she qualified for the USA Olympic Trials, placing 7th.
After taking one year off (2013), Priscilla attained dual citizenship for the country of Antigua & Barbuda, which she acquired in early 2014. Winning Nationals, setting the countries High Jump Record, becoming the North American Central American Caribbean Games High Jump Silver medalist & Competing at the Commonwealth Games, 2014 began her Track and Field career with a bang.
In 2015 & 2016, Priscilla began to shine, becoming the Pan American Games Silver medalist, setting a new country High Jump record & becoming National Female Athlete of the Year, while finishing both seasons competing at the 2015 Outdoor World Championships in Beijing, China and 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
Priscilla is now in training for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. While on this journey, she has been inducted into her High Schools Hall of Fame as well as the South Jersey Hall of Fame. She owns FLAWLESS Cleaning Service, Home Cleaning & Organization business, hosts private fitness training and is an Inspirational Speaker.
While being a professional athlete, Priscilla feels passionate about inspiring those chasing their dreams. She wants to be a symbol and a role model for anyone battling adversities and roadblocks while in pursuit to a major goal. Priscilla’s journey has been very different than most and she wants to share her life story with those seeking motivation.
In the future, she wants to continue her pursuit of acting while auditioning for Marvel and Disney films, as well as being a positive representation of hard work and dedication to the younger generation.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! It is a great honor. Our readers would love to learn more about your personal background. Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
Iwas born in Queens, NY and raised by my incredible mother. It was always just her, my sister and I. NY life became tough for her so she moved us to Voorhees, NJ (South Jersey). Being a single mother was difficult which meant a lot of sacrifices, a lot of moving and living paycheck to paycheck. On Halloween, it was whatever we could find in her closet, Christmas my sister and I shared gifts and Vacations were to the park where she would take off work and be with us, Girls Day Out! I can say this now, being 31, it was the greatest time of my life. We loved each other, stayed humble and were grateful for every single day. I went to Catholic middle school and High School. Track and Field became my life through the years and in the end received a Scholarship to run at St. John’s University in Queens, NY. Graduated with a degree in Mass Communications with a focus in TV/Film, competed at the 2012 US Olympic Trials, and turned Pro in 2014 for the Country of Antigua and Barbuda.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career as a high level professional athlete?
My mother inspired me to be different, inspiring and authentic in whatever I pursue. In High School I realized I wanted to entertain, I loved being on stage (Musicals/Plays) and competing (Track and Field). My mother supported me with that “Dream”, pushing me, supporting me and allowing me to invest in myself while I trained and traveled.
None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?
As they say, it takes a village, but 1 person, besides my mother, who had the most impact through this entire journey was my (former High School High Jump Coach) former Olympic High Jump Coach, Mike Pascuzzo. He was a father figure for me and helped me on the track but also in life. When I was faced with a crossroad, I would turn to him for guidance and honesty. He never sugar-coated situations or softened the blow when a tough decision needed to be made. He helped thicken my skin and was always blunt with me. The difficult lessons, the hard facts, he taught me how to manage and deal with all of it. I wouldn’t say “encouragement”, but it was the help I needed to get to where I am. We no longer work together, but in my teens and 20s, a critical time in an athlete’s life, he was there, protecting me and teaching me life lessons.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your sports career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?
Oo man, It was at the 2016 Olympic Games. I was at the practice track and I had single leg hurdle hops as a part of my workout. To be very honest, I am HORRIBLE at single leg hops. I set up the hurdles and the power couple of Track and Field walk over and set up right next to me, Ashton and Brianne Eaton. (They were the Brad and Angelina of Track and Field.) I looked at the hurdles and looked at them. I attempted to do 1 hurdle, stumbled over it and almost fell. I was mortified. I couldn’t embarrass myself in front of the IT couple. I put all the hurdles away and went on to the next part of my workout. Called my coach and told him what happened, he laughed at me.
The Lesson: Never be ashamed of where you are in life. Work on your weaknesses and have them become your strengths.
OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. Can you tell us the story of your transition from a professional athlete to a successful business person?
It started from hitting rock bottom. Most people believe “successful” athletes never have dark/bad periods in their journey but we are human and we all have regular lives on top of our athletic careers. I started my business as a result from being “homeless”. My mother and I had a terrible falling out due to her now husband which led to my coach taking me in with his family. It was the first time I truly felt alone and scared. After a few days I realized, I needed to have an athlete mentality about the situation and make an opportunity out of it. I asked myself what am I good at, what could be helpful/useful to people and what can I afford to start right now. Cleaning! I asked my coaches mother, the neighbors and family friends what they looked for in a cleaning service and why they trusted their cleaning service, I went to Target and bought supplies, created a flyer on my computer, sent it out on Facebook and got my first 3 clients. FLAWLESS Cleaning service started.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects new you are working on now?
The biggest project is expanding my business to offices and partnering with Apartment complexes. It’s a big step for my company that started almost 4 years ago with just me but now I realize I can venture out and become a bigger entity
Do you think your experience as a professional athlete gave you skills that make you a better entrepreneur? Can you give a story or example about what you mean?
Absolutely. As I stated before, I had to dig deep and have that athlete mentality to start my business. Commitment, Sacrifice, Dedication, Grit, Humility, Work ethic, positivity, all these attributes were key components into the start and success of my business. Rather than cry and complain about the situation I was put into, I thought outside the box, I made a way for myself, I thought like a champion. Rest if you must, but don’t quit. That’s the attitude athletes have and that’s the mentality I had when starting the business. It was a bump in the road, not the end.
Ok. Here is the main question of our interview. Entrepreneurs and professional athletes share a common “hustle culture”. Can you share your “5 Work Ethic Lessons That Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Athletes”? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Humility- Everyone saw “Cleaning” as something that was beneath me and probably still do. But I realize what I give my clients is something greater than what appears. The “deep breath” when they come through the front door knowing their kids can come in to a clean home and knowing they don’t have spend hours cleaning after 8 hours of work. The confidence that they can trust me in their home when they are working. The time I give back to them to rest and maybe spend with their families. No one is greater than the next person. We are all equal.
- Don’t Quit- Rest if you must, but don’t quit. Things in life and in business get hard, of course, but its apart of the journey to success. I’ve had times when I wasn’t sure my business would survive, but I ignored the fear and pushed on. I knew I had to believe in myself. I needed to find a way.
- Keep Educating Yourself- You may know your business but everyday things are changing. Educate yourself on how to make your business better. Be a “student of your sport” or in this case a “student of your business environment”. Read, Listen and Invest time in the education of where your business is going.
- Enjoy the Journey- You learn a lot when you win and when you lose. Enjoy the lessons you learn from failures and enjoy the moments of hard work that lead to success!
- Think Like an athlete- The same attributes that made me a successful athlete should translate to business. Hard work, Dedication, Determination, self-discipline, all these qualities should carry over to business.
What would you advise to a young person who aspires to follow your footsteps and emulate your career? What advice would you give?
Be Brave enough to start! Never doubt yourself or your abilities. People thought I was ridiculous for chasing the Olympic dream but I had a supportive group of people keeping me focused, had self-motivation and had to believe in myself. Allow yourself to learn along the way and be fearless. Sometimes you have to take the leap of faith!
You are by all accounts a very successful person. How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I try to bring goodness to the world every day in some way, big or small. I’ve donated to charities, volunteered my time working with children, post daily positive content on my social media, and currently I’m beginning a foundation to help single parents support their children financially. I’m truly trying to be the change I want to see.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
My mother was a single parent. I saw her struggle every day to give my sister and I a better life. She worked multiple jobs, put us through private school and remained strong through every difficulty life threw at her. I owe everything to her. Children see when their parents support them, believe in them and sacrifice for them. Children need love and guidance. I want to inspire the education and support of children, in whatever way I can. With education and love children can be the bright future we all want. Giving children access to nutrition, education and guidance is my life’s mission!
Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?
I might not be where I am now but ,with courage, I can become great at anything I set my mind to. This quote describes my life. You have to have courage in order to be great, to truly believe in yourself and in your passion. I took steps in the right direction because I had to be fearless; I didn’t want to be average, I knew my mother sacrificed so I be great.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂
To be very honest, I would love to have brunch with Ellen DeGeneres. Mrs. DeGeneres went through a journey that would have broken most people. She was disrespected, dropped and cast out. She had 2 choices, let go or ‘just keep swimming’ and fight on. She chose the latter. Now, she is one of the most recognized human beings on the planet and has it in her heart to give back and make people happy. What an amazing example of how to be brave and courageous. Would love to share a mimosa and a conversation with her.