by Megan Watson '11
Senior physical education major Ryan Prescott is an honors student and triple athlete at Saint Joseph's, though he wasn't always encouraged to play sports in high school. Born in Manchester, N.H., he moved with his mom and siblings to Quebec, where they lived on public assistance. (His father wasn't able to provide for the family due to health issues.) At 14, Prescott became the family's breadwinner by working at Pizza Hut. He got involved in sports at a young age, but over time his mother began cutting off his freedom to play sports because it interfered with his job. By the last semester in high school, he wasn't allowed to play sports at all. When he wanted to start saving some of his own money for college, his mother told him to pack his belongings and leave the house.
Ryan Prescott has been a star runner on the cross country team and a key player on the lacrosse and ice hockey teams. He was recently selected by Maine Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance to represent Maine as one of the two Outstanding Future Professionals in Physical Education statewide. He also won the 2008 Neile Nelson Award and 2008 Male Student-Athlete Award.
Were you the only child out of four to help support the family?
Yes, I was. Mom tried to get a job, but because of her poor French and lack of education, she never got hired.
What has helped you deal with your past?
Well, the question is "who." I was fortunate to have an amazing friend to help me through a tough senior year, and my aunt was so generous to let me stay in her home for a year. And I have incredible grandparents to lean on. I have encouraging teammates and supportive friends to share the joys of sports. I also have to mention dedicated coaches and teachers willing to sacrifice their time for others, plus a friend who shares more optimism and love than anyone I have ever met.
How did your childhood shape the person you are now?
There's a quote by Travis Roy, a hockey player from Maine who was paralyzed within the first few minutes of his first collegiate game. He says, ‘The optimistic person will succeed.' As long as you're optimistic, nothing can bring you down and you can make it through anything.
What is your relationship now with your parents?
I talk to both of them now. Dad and I are good friends. Mom and I have learned to forgive and forget about the past. Today, I understand the hardships they had to go through to make my life what it is now. I am very grateful they are my parents.
How would you describe yourself?
Blessed. Coming to Saint Joseph's gave me the opportunity to meet new people, including my girlfriend, and to play sports I had never tried before. I don't want people to feel bad for me. I want people to be hopeful about their own path. God has been a true shepherd and, for that, I am so excited for what's to come next.