When she was a senior at Princeton University in 1990-91, Mollie Marcoux wrote her thesis on the history of women in sports.
The choice of subject was appropriate in view of the fact that Marcoux made plenty of history during her athletic career at Princeton on the ice and soccer field.
As a hockey player, Marcoux was a four-time All-Ivy League performer, a three-time team MVP, an All-ECAC selection, and a member of the ECAC Team of the Decade. In soccer, she earned second-team All-Ivy honors. Marcoux won the C. Otto von Kienbusch Award in 1991, the top senior female student-athlete award at Princeton which recognizes “high scholastic rank, sportsmanship, and general excellence in athletics.”
Last week, Marcoux was front and center in another historic moment for Princeton, getting named as the first female Director of Athletics in school history.
Speaking at an introductory press conference at Jadwin Gym on April 15, Marcoux made it clear that she was thrilled to come home.
“To return to a university that played such a formative role in my life and to do everything I can to be sure that future generations of Princeton students continue to have the educational and character building experience that I had while being a student here is just very, very exciting to me,” said a smiling Marcoux, the replacement for the Princeton’s current Ford Family Director of Athletics Gary Walters, who is retiring after 20 years at the helm.
Being a trailblazer doesn’t faze Marcoux, who will be the fifth AD in school history. “It is fantastic; the funny thing is that when I told my current bosses about this opportunity that was the first thing they thought of,” said Marcoux, who has worked the last 19 years with Chelsea Piers Management, which owns and operates two major amateur sports complexes, Chelsea Piers New York and Chelsea Piers Connecticut.
“It hadn’t really dawned on me yet that it was going to be something different. I think it is phenomenally exciting and I couldn’t thank everyone enough to give me that opportunity to have that role.”
Rising to the post of senior vice president in the Chelsea Piers organization has given Marcoux a good foundation for the Princeton post.
“I have had the opportunity to market and develop sports programs for athletes of all ages and abilities, to design and maintain world class facilities, to help an organization full of very talented people grow and help mentor them,” said Marcoux.
Marcoux is looking forward to working with the talented group of coaches at Princeton.
“I am also really truly awed by the quality of coaches that Gary has hired; I am not alone in believing that Princeton has the best coaches in the Ivy League, and I would argue, in college sports,” said Marcoux.
“Princeton’s coaches across the board are exceptional, not only for their personal accomplishments but for their integrity and commitment to the overall development of our student athletes as competitors, leaders, and scholars.”
Praising Walters’ steadfast commitment to the department’s guiding principle of “Education Through Athletics,” Marcoux is looking to further that mission.
“First and foremost, I just firmly believe in what we do with respect to academics and athletics,” said Marcoux.
“Princeton truly values the roles sports can play in the education of our students and deeply appreciates the role coaches can play in shaping all dimensions of their lives.”
As Marcoux gets acclimated to her new role, she plans to tap the knowledge of her predecessor.
“I have huge, huge shoes to fill and Gary has graciously offered to help me with this and I will need him at every step of the way,” said Marcoux, who is married to Andrew Samaan, and the couple are the parents of three children, aged 10, 8 and 5.
“I hope to work closely with our talented athletic department staff and the university leadership to build upon the enormous success of Gary and my other predecessors in this role. I will do everything I can to make sure that I uphold the traditions and excellence you have created.”
With Princeton having won 214 Ivy titles and 48 national championships over the last 20 years, Marcoux is determined to add to that ledger.
“Our unrelenting pursuit of Ivy, and in some cases, national championships is very important,” said Marcoux.
“We have had great competitive success throughout our history, and particularly in the last 20 years, and we have amazingly talented athletes on campus. But everyday we need to work to get better and challenge ourselves. We need to be well prepared, creative and disciplined, and dedicated to excellence is all areas. We just have to continue to love what we do.”
For Marcoux, taking the helm of the Princeton athletics program is a labor of love.
“I truly and passionately loved playing soccer and hockey for Princeton and being a student here,” said Marcoux.
“Having the opportunity every day to engage with Princeton’s talented student athletes and help them reach their goals is something I never imagined could be true.”
Marcoux brings a wealth of experience to help the athletes reach goals at Princeton and beyond. “I know the beginning of the academic life here is very challenging,” said Marcoux.
“Having lived that and knowing that it gets a lot better as the years go and knowing that you can make it if you just stick to it is an important thing to be able to pass on to the students. In terms of the things I learned that help me everyday, they are the things we all learn as being athletes — determination, hard work, and working as a team. Some of the things I didn’t pick up as much while I was here and more reflecting back on the experience, I just think most of what I know is from my days playing sports and being here.”