GALLOWAY — Priscilla Frederick always had, and still has, dreams of a Broadway stage.
Although the Dubliner Pub and Grill here is far from the Theater District, the six-foot Olympian with the ever-present smile, and personality as bright as her purple hair, thoroughly entertained her audience on the Theology on Tap stage recently.
On Nov. 17, the 27-year-old shared her life of struggle, acceptance and faith with twenty- and thirtysomethings over wings and suds.
“The only reason I am here today is because of my struggles,” she told the young men and women.
A Sicklerville native, where she still resides, Frederick told of being the product of a single-parent household, with a mother who constantly pushed her to succeed.
At Paul VI High School in Haddon Township, she was a regular in its theater performances, and more invested onstage than on the athletic field, where she also was a member of the track team.
Hope in a modeling/acting career in New York vanished after Frederick learned of the cost of college education, and she instead dedicated her senior year to track, eventually receiving a scholarship to Saint John’s University after her 2007 graduation. There, she set the school record for indoor and outdoor high jumps, and was a three-time All-American.
After qualifying for the finals of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials, she re-focused for 2016.
Frederick credited her Catholic faith, and her in-attendance mother, for the perseverance which brought her to Rio last summer, representing the country of Antigua and Barbuda (where her father was born).
“They pushed me further than I ever thought I could go,” she said, urging her peers to “have a relationship with Christ. I’m not ashamed of my faith, and none of you should be.”
Frederick also stressed getting rid of those toxic relationships that are barriers to running a faithful race.
“Take hold of your life, and cut out negative people. Start raising the bar, and your standards,” she advised.
A healthy attitude toward oneself and others is also an important step to take, she said. “Change the way you feel about yourself. Spread love to yourself, and to others,” she said.
After her 20-minute talk, Frederick answered questions, signed autographs, and took pictures with the happy crowd.
“She’s a great witness to the faith, not afraid to be herself,” said Jessica Gettings, a junior at nearby Stockton University.
Her classmate Vicky Mitchell agreed. “She was inspiring and engaging, someone we could relate to,” she said.
When asked what her greatest accomplishment in life has been, Frederick imparted her greatest love, her greatest focus, brighter than any 42nd Street light and more gratifying than the applause of millions.
“Giving myself to God,” she answered with a smile.