Twenty-three years after leaving the ice in her final game at Princeton, Mollie Marcoux ’91 still loves to compete. She coaches her three children in youth sports, and during the season, she joked, “I spend half my life thinking about mite hockey.”
Beginning this summer, Marcoux (pronounced Mar-KOO) will have 38 more teams to think about as she takes over as Princeton’s new director of athletics. The longtime executive at Chelsea Piers Management will be the first woman to lead the department — a distinction that she said she is proud to have, but not one that was top-of-mind when she interviewed for the job.
In fact, Marcoux said that she had been so focused on launching and managing the Connecticut sports complex of Manhattan-based Chelsea Piers that she had not given serious thought to leaving the company. But after meeting with Princeton’s search committee and spending time on campus, she realized the uncommon perks of the job. “Having the opportunity, every day, to engage with Princeton’s talented student-athletes and help them reach their goals is something that I never imagined,” she said.
All four of Princeton’s previous athletic directors were standout athletes for the Tigers, and Marcoux continues that tradition. As an undergraduate, she captained the women’s ice hockey team, finishing her career with a program-best 216 points (a record later eclipsed by Katherine Issel ’95). Bob Ewell, Marcoux’s hockey coach, said she was “the go-to person” on the ice: When Princeton’s first line scored, she usually helped to make it happen, either as a shooter or a passer.
Marcoux also earned four varsity letters in women’s soccer. She majored in history, writing her thesis about sports and gender (in particular, women’s golf) from the 1890s to the 1950s. As a senior, she received the Von Kienbusch Award, given to the University’s top female athlete.
Marcoux may seem somewhat removed from intercollegiate athletics — she coached hockey and soccer at the Lawrenceville School after graduation and has spent the last 19 years in the sports and recreation business, working for facilities that host youth and amateur athletes. But it is worth noting that her predecessor, Gary Walters ’67, spent 13 years working in finance before he returned to campus as athletic director.
President Eisgruber ’83 introduced Marcoux at an April 15 press conference, calling her “an ideal leader” for the athletics program. “She understands, because she has lived it, the commitment that Princeton makes to ensure that the term scholar-athlete bears equal weight on both sides of the hyphen,” he said.
The press conference, held on the basketball court at Jadwin Gym, had a festive atmosphere, with coaches and staffers filling two sections of the bleachers. Marcoux posed for photos with two student fans clad in orange spandex bodysuits and tiger-striped ski goggles. A pair of varsity football players sang and played guitar at a reception in the lobby.
In August, with less fanfare, Marcoux will settle into her office upstairs in Jadwin and begin the quotidian tasks of a wide-ranging job — supervising coaches, managing the department’s budget, raising money from donors, and working to keep Princeton teams at the top of the Ivy League standings. She inherits a department that has averaged 11 Ivy titles per year under Walters, and she hopes to preserve many aspects of the culture that her predecessor has championed. “We need to be well-prepared, creative, disciplined, and dedicated to excellence in all areas,” she said. “And I firmly believe that we just have to continue to love what we do.”