Peccie Brings Decades of Passion, Professionalism to New Job
Mary Peccie figures sports have been a part of her life since she strapped on her older brother’s headgear and wrestled her life-sized Raggedy Ann doll. She was just five, and there’s no doubt the doll didn’t have a chance.
“Playing sports have provided a sense of accomplishment and have forged bonds of friendship and defined the person I have become,” she says. “Not only that, they have provided the greatest moments of enjoyment in my life.”
Peccie brought that passion for sports and the lessons they teach to Norfolk Collegiate this summer, leaving behind her job as co-director of athletics at Norfolk Academy, where she spent 12 years as a student and two decades as a coach and administrator. Over her career, she was named 2010 Athletic Administrator of the Year by the Virginia Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association and the TCIS Coach of the Year for tennis eight times.
For Peccie, the move to a rival where she could have a significant impact proved to be an opportunity she couldn’t resist. “I took this job because growing up I had a lot of respect for Norfolk Collegiate as a rival,” she says. “As a small independent school, a vibrant athletic program can have a significant impact on the lives of its students and other members of the school community. I am excited to participate in the shaping and guiding of a healthy athletic program.”
Peccie has spent the summer interviewing and hiring new coaches in several sports, including boys lacrosse, boys soccer, baseball, and girls basketball as well as a new assistant athletic director, Kai Evans, a former Virginia Tech soccer player.
At a small school like Norfolk Collegiate, Peccie notes there are big opportunities to excel in sports. “I encourage all of our athletes to participate in multiple sports,” she says. “Even for students who want to specialize in a single sport, it is important to have a variety of experiences from which to learn and grow.”
As a high school student, Peccie played volleyball, basketball, and tennis. At Randolph Macon, she continued to play volleyball and basketball, but traded a racquet for a lacrosse stick. “While I majored in elementary education,” she says, “the hours spent practicing and competing in the sports I love provided much of the education that has brought me to this point in my life.”
Her fondest memories, as a player and an educator, have come on the fields of battle, often when her teams exceeded expectations. As a student, her team won the first ever TCIS volleyball championship. As a coach, she guided her 2007 volleyball team to the TCIS title by defeating teams ranked not only first and second in the conference, but first and second in the state. “It was great because we showed what we could do when we put our heart and mind into it,” she adds.
Peccie knows all too well the value of enhancing time in the classroom by passionately participating in a sport. “Athletics provide opportunities for students to learn important lessons about life and themselves that they may not acquire in the classroom,” she notes. “Lessons in humility, goal-setting, determination, sportsmanship, effort, attitude, pride, and leadership, among others, are learned on the fields and courts of competition.”
Every student matters, she says, from the athlete seeking to play at the college level to the one looking for the joy of being part of a high school team. In the end, sports helps build community, connection, and pride in a school.
“An ideal athletic program is one where every student, coach, teacher, administrator, parent, and supporter of the school feels a sense of pride and accomplishment in the entire athletic program, not simply one or two high profile teams,” she says. “Every student should feel that he or she has opportunities to grow and develop athletically. Coaches should be knowledgeable of their sport, but should also be effective role models and teachers to help nurture that growth and development in every athlete.”