Becoming Loudy

Being a Junior Coach helped Julia Masur find her voice.

When Julia Masur transferred to Adelante Spanish Immersion School in Redwood City halfway through second grade, most of the kids had been together since kindergarten. “I didn’t have a ton of friends,” says Julia, “and it was hard adjusting. I wasn’t a super social kid—I was kind of a nerd—and it was a challenge for me to break out of my shell.”

Becoming a Junior Coach helped Julia find her voice. “Before being a Junior Coach, I had been really quiet in school,” she recalls. “Being a Junior Coach helped me be more extroverted. It made me more comfortable with who I was.”  

By high school, Julia was a self-described, “very loud person.” In fact, “My friends in high school called me Loudy. I have a loud voice that carries really well.” As team captain of her high school water polo team, being loud was key: “It is just necessary so your team can hear you. I had to yell a lot!”

For Julia however, finding her voice meant more than just learning to use her lungs. In elementary school, “I was a little bossy, and not the most popular kid,” Julia recalls. “Playworks helped me with a lot of social interaction stuff. Junior Coaches would lead games together, especially big games or games we knew would be super popular. We had to collaborate.”

“Being a junior coach was my first real opportunity to be a leader outside of schoolwork,” Julia says. “It was up to us to schedule what games we wanted to play, to figure out who would work together, and to get together the equipment.”

The teamwork and leadership skills Julia learned as a Junior Coach, even more than her loud voice, made her successful as a water polo team captain. They also prepared her for her future career.

“The younger kids really look to you and see you as a role model,” says Julia, who is now a first year student at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington. “I really enjoy working with kids, and that started when I was a Junior Coach.”

Julia continued working with kids and growing as a leader as a camp counselor. Now, she is studying History with a triple minor in Education Studies, Math, and Sociology/Anthropology, and plans to become a history teacher.

“I still have my Junior Coach shirt in my drawer, and my friends and I still talked about it during high school,” she says. “It really sticks with you!”

More Stories of Play

Alumni Spotlight: Catherine Herzog ›

Current Role: Senior Manager of Experiences at IfOnly Who is Catherine Herzog? I’m a native to Southern California and have chased sunshine and adventure since I was a kid. I am known to be an impulsive and frequent traveler, with a habit of moving every few years (typically to places I’ve never visited before), including…

What if every student had an Inspired Teacher? ›

The Inspired Teaching Residency prepares exceptional individuals for successful and sustainable careers as teachers and changemakers in Washington, DC. Truly valuing the complexity and importance of the teaching profession, the Inspired Teaching Residency recognizes that investing the necessary time into teacher preparation is in the best interest of students. Inspired Teaching Fellows learn to be…

Making teaching playful ›

For former Playworks coach turned second-grade teacher Dana Lovecchio, play doesn’t just enhance learning, it’s central to her teaching approach. “I like to think that everything I need to know about teaching I learned at Sports4Kids and Playworks,” says Lovecchio. Lovecchio served as a coach for Playworks (then Sports4Kids) from 2002 to 2004 in the…

Overcoming the challenges of creating an inclusive school community ›

Educators know that helping new students transition into a school’s  culture is critical to building and sustaining a healthy community. This can be tough, especially when students come from different backgrounds or cultures. We see examples of schools overcoming this challenge on Playworks playgrounds around the country. The key to their success is enabling students…