Wilton's Trackside Teen Center gets new program coordinator

New program coordinator, Tracey Dean, joins Cindy Moser and John Priest on the staff of Trackside Teen Center in Wilton.

New program coordinator, Tracey Dean, joins Cindy Moser and John Priest on the staff of Trackside Teen Center in Wilton.

Trackside Teen Center photo

WILTON — In an effort to expand opportunities for youth in Wilton, Trackside Teen Center has hired a full-time program coordinator.

New staff member Tracey Dean, joins Cindy Moser, Trackside’s director of development and operations, and program director John Priest to create and run new programs and special events for middle and high school students.

Dean is a familiar face to the Wilton community. She moved here when she was 4, and is a 1985 graduate of Wilton High School. “A lot of people know me from the field,” Dean said.

The soccer field, that is.

While raising six children, Dean was active as a certified soccer coach, soccer referee and soccer mentor.

“I coached soccer for all my kids, probably a total of 22 teams. During that time, I got to know a lot of kids,” she said.

Dean is a former member of Trackside’s board of directors and has a background in childcare.

She is also a certified addictions counselor and therapist, making her a good match for Trackside, which is dedicated to providing young people a safe and supervised drug-, alcohol- and tobacco-free gathering place.

“Tracey is a fantastic addition to our team and we are so excited about how much more we will be able to do for the middle school and high-school-aged kids in our community with her on our team,” said Moser.

A nonprofit organization, Trackside Teen Center is at 15 Station Road and has a public-private partnership with the town. The new program director position is being funded through an outside grant.

After spending months in various forms of isolation this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, Trackside is filling a niche for parents looking for safe outlets for their teens, according to Dean.

“In light of COVID, Trackside gives kids an in-person opportunity to have fun and be kids. Now, more than ever, kids need to go to a place to talk and realize they are all going through similar things,” Dean said.

Trackside staff is employing strict health and safety hygiene and cleaning measures and staff and students using the facility must wear masks and maintain social distancing.

The center offers a wide range of programs, many of which have been requested by the teens themselves.

One of the most popular programs Trackside is running right now is “Among Us,” an online game made popular by New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a self-proclaimed gamer.

After Trackside staff reviewed and played “Among Us,” where players try to spot the alien in their spaceship, Trackside posted a schedule to play the game on its website. “Open slots were quickly filled in 10 minutes,” Dean said.

Trackside staff is always encouraging teens to suggest games and activities. “The programs at Trackside can literally change in a day,” Dean said. “If a kid comes in and suggests a game, John Priest is on it to review it and get it going as soon as possible.”

Dean has only spent one week in her new job as Trackside’s program coordinator, but she has nothing but respect and admiration for the dedication shown by co-workers Moser and Priest.

“Cindy is highly organized. She makes sure everyone checks in, and everyone has space.”

Priest, a social studies teacher at Middlebrook School, comes to Trackside at the end of his school work day.

“Their energy and enthusiasm is shocking to me. The Trackside building is great, but the people right now who are running it are amazing. I’m impressed with how this organization is being run,” Dean said.

Trackside membership has been growing, Dean said, because it is one of the few opportunities for teens to gather now in a safe and monitored environment. “There have been issues [COVID cases] with kids playing sports unmonitored. At Trackside, everything is monitored and games are cleaned and disinfected after every use,” Dean said.

One of the best things so far for Dean in her new job, is listening to the noises emanating from the different rooms at Trackside. “You hear the sound of kids laughing and that’s wonderful,” she said.

To share program ideas or ask questions about Trackside, email Dean at tracey@trackside.org. Program and membership information is available at trackside.org.

pgay@wiltonbulletin.com