Powered by MOJO: Sterling House

How MOJO helps one historic community center deliver the best in sports programming

Laura Lambert

| 4 min read

Sterling House

For more than 90 years, the Sterling House — a grand, Victorian mansion surrounded by eight acres of park-like grounds — has been at the heart of the community in Stratford, Connecticut, providing preschool, after-school care, a food pantry, and, notably, athletics for a city that, today, is more than 55,000 strong. From tennis teams in the 1930s to the Sterling Advanced Futbol Club (SAFC), a premier competitive youth soccer program that launched just last year, sport — and in particular youth sport — has driven Sterling House programming.

And now, operations director Catherine Proto is using the MOJO app to keep community-based youth sports programming at the top of its game.

Small but mighty

Proto first came to Sterling House in 2019, as the director of athletics and recreation. “I was a department of one,” Proto explains. “I did everything: I would run clinics, half-day summer camps, classes.” 

Four years in, Proto now has a staff of two athletic coordinators working alongside her — but the mandate is still the same. “We coach. We teach. We administer. We do all of the things.” 

Sport — in particular, basketball — has long been Proto’s passion. Before Sterling House, she was on the coaching staff of the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun and New York Liberty, as well as the Seton Hall women’s basketball program. And as athlete, administrator, and volunteer coach for her twin boys, she knew what the community needed from top to bottom.  

As a coach…

For Proto, it’s the quality and usability of the MOJO curriculum that matters for the volunteers who are at the heart of Sterling’s recreational programs — herself included.

“For our athletics, it’s 95% volunteer coaches, which could be parents, aunt, uncles, long-time volunteers,” says Proto. (Paid staff run camps and professional coaches run the competitive leagues.)

As a volunteer soccer and basketball coach at Sterling for her twin boys, now 10, the MOJO app spoke to Proto’s sport and coaching background. 

“I did a lot in the beginning with the videos, to see what drills to run,” Proto says. And even though the terminology in soccer was different from basketball, many of the concepts were the same. The videos, she says, were easy to relate to. “The quality of the videos and the production is just outstanding. It makes it a better teaching tool, coaching tool, than the typical YouTube video.”

The app simplified her life as a volunteer coach as well. “I don’t email parents anymore. I don’t text them. I use the app,” Proto says. “During the coaches meetings, I make everyone download it.”

As an administrator… 

It’s the same efficiency of the MOJO app — in particular, the simplified, centralized communication — that makes life as a busy program administrator better as well. 

“The time-saving aspect of the app is incredible,” says Proto. “Instead of sending 20 text messages or sending five different groups materials, I update it once in the app. If I have to update five club teams on schedules and what jersey to wear, I can do that sitting on my couch.” 

The app also helps streamline the experience for the thousands of families that Sterling House’s athletics programs serve.

“There’s no easier sell to the parent,” she adds. “They don’t have to search for the email I sent three weeks ago, or the text message buried on their phone.”

For the community… 

Today, Proto and her team serve roughly 3,000 kids across all of Sterling House’s athletic programs each year, from volleyball and lacrosse clinics, basketball and rec and competitive soccer leagues to the summer camps that, this year at least, sold out in less than 3 minutes. 

And if someone in the community has an idea for a new sport or program, she’s more than game. 

“With our independence, our leadership and our community connection, people feel that they can come to us and that something will happen,” she says. “It doesn’t fall on deaf ears.”

For Proto, it’s about giving the community what it wants and needs — whether that’s a new competitive soccer league, or the technology to make their lives easier. 

“The spirit of Sterling House is to serve the community. That’s who we are at heart,” says Proto. “With our families, the optimal experience is something we strive for. And the MOJO app has helped us with that.”

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