Monday, July 19, 2021

Mollie's Party

If you stood on the patio at Forbes College Friday afternoon, then odds are you had to be sweating. 

If you ventured inside, it was much cooler. And there were donuts. Usually, when it's hovering near a hundred degrees, air conditioning and donuts are the easy winner.

On the other hand, the woman of the hour was standing outside, near where DJ Darius was playing music. The woman of the hour didn't move off of her spot for the entire time TigerBlog was there. She didn't have to. Everyone came to her.

It made TB think a bit of what might be his favorite line from "Goodfellas." It's near the beginning, when Ray Liotta is just starting to give the lineup of who's who in the movie. It's when the audience first meets up with Paul Sorvino, who plays Paulie. 

Okay, the two aren't really all that close. But there was at least some similarity.

For starters, Paulie from Goodfellas was the boss. So was the women of the hour, the soon-to-be-former Ford Family Director of Athletics Mollie Marcoux Samaan. 

Also, everyone was coming to see Mollie. She didn't have to, well, move for anyone. That's where the similarities end. You know, because Paulie was the boss of a mob family and all.

The occasion was Mollie's farewell party. By now you almost surely know that she will be leaving Princeton soon to become the commissioner of the LPGA. It's a job that she will be perfect for, given her love of the following things: 1) the value of athletics, 2) the ability to contribute to the growth of athletic opportunities for girls and women and 3) golf.

She leaves Princeton after seven years as the head of the Department of Athletics. TigerBlog could give you a long list of her accomplishments in those seven years, including an overwhelming number of championships, facility upgrades, the growth of the Princeton Tigers Performance initiative and wild successes in fundraising and endowment.

Those are all great achievements. They are not what TigerBlog thinks about first when he thinks about Mollie. What she's always been about are the people. And that has always started with the athletes.

“The mission of Princeton Athletics is to prepare our student-athletes to achieve, serve and lead in all areas," she said recently. She believes that firmly, by the way. That was the motto she created when she arrived, building off of "Education Through Athletics" to make her own stamp. She'd later create another foundational piece of Princeton Athletics when she coined "Be A Tiger" as a way of encapsulating the values of the department.

There isn't an athlete who competed at Princeton in her time who hasn't benefited from her values and her initiatives. She's touched them all, whether they met her directly or not. 

She also leaves a mark on the people with whom she worked, both those who were part of the department she ran and those she met elsewhere at the University. There were plenty of both represented at the party Friday.

Her greatest strength is possibly her ability to relate to people. She has others. She has a proven history of learning quickly, of overseeing successful operations and building on that success, of establishing organizational expectations and insisting that her people meet them.

But above all that, it's likely that her success has been, as TB said, to relate. To everyone. It makes people want to give their best effort, since they are made to feel by the person in charge that their contribution is valued.

And so one by one, everyone went over to where Mollie was, in the shade, to say hello, and presumably goodbye. It hasn't been easy for her to make this decision to leave Princeton, where she played soccer and hockey before heading into the business world at Chelsea Piers and then coming back to her alma mater in 2014.

In typical Mollie fashion, she made time for everyone. 

There were hugs. There were good wishes. There were memories. There were laughs.

It was a perfect send off for this particular boss. 

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