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September 30, 2020
Fig Giving Back: Andres Morales
Football has brought so many good people into my life,” says Coach Andres Morales, president and founder of the Lehigh Valley Steel Rockets. “How could I not have a program like this?”
The 2006 Liberty High (and Broughal Middle) School graduate had a stellar football and academic career: he earned a full athletic scholarship to Rutgers University, and continued to play at Bloomsburg, where he got his masters’ in education. After a stint in professional arena football, Andres returned to the Lehigh Valley, to the sport he knows and loves—and to create the kind of communities and opportunities the sport made possible for him and for others. He coached for Freedom, Parkland, Liberty. And in 2015, Coach Morales founded the Lehigh Valley Steel Rockets.
The Lehigh Valley Steel Rockets are part of the club season, which runs in the spring opposite the traditional fall football season—but participants attend college football games and take part in workouts and film sessions year-round. The team brings together players from across the Lehigh Valley to practice and travel for tournaments around the country. The club program allows young people to continue to develop—through discipline and respect, as athletes, as leaders and members of a team—and broadens their sense of the possible.
In addition to advancing their athletic skills, the club provides SAT and college prep courses. A tournament trip will also feature college visits and tours—to Duke, UNC, Wake Forest—and face time with college athletic programs. “We prime the kids with questions,” says Coach Morales. “Ask about GPAs, SATs. Now, they know the goal. By putting them on campuses, in meeting rooms and facilities worth millions of dollars—there’s no better way to empower them than with a vision.”
Since its founding, the club has continued to grow and succeed—in 2019, their 15-and-under team competed in the invitational NFA National Tournament in Bradenton, Florida—and it’s poised to level up its reach. As with any new venture—and especially now, as the economic effects of COVID-19 ripple out—long-term funding is a concern, and the Rockets are actively seeking donors and corporate sponsors.
The need for spaces where young people can thrive, connect, and look to the future will never diminish, and neither will the passion that drives Coach Morales. Running the Steel Rockets “provides me and our coaches a sense of purpose,” he says. “To continue to be football junkies, enthralled and engulfed by the sport—we still go to coaching clinics, we’re still learning the game—and now we get to pass it down, to these kids who start to feel like little brothers. Who start to feel like sons.
For more information or to support the Steel Rockets program, visit steelrockets.live.