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Sarah Christensen P '10, 12

Head Coach Girls' Varsity Cross Country Team

She is known respectfully by her Pingry athletes as "The Hill Lady," for the grueling hill workouts she puts them through. But Sarah Christensen, a former Olympic Trials qualifier in the marathon and elite runner in her own right, knows a thing or two about her sport. And Pingry runners have been benefiting from her wisdom and passion for the last decade. 

She began coaching at Pingry in the fall of 2010, following some gentle coaxing by then-Athletics Director Gerry Vanasse, and when the time was right in her career. A position as assistant coach of the Girls' Varsity Cross Country Team, which she still holds to this day, was quickly followed by work with the track & field team—both indoor and outdoor—and head coach roles for the Middle School Track & Field and Cross Country Teams. Not counting weekend meets, which are known to drag on, she estimates she spends 25 hours a week on the Basking Ridge Campus, overseeing Middle and Upper School and practices. Fond memories abound, but one that will forever stand out, she says, is helping the girls' varsity 4x800-meter relay team advance to Indoor Nationals in February of 2018, and watching as they gutted their way to a blazing school record of 9:15.05, a ninth-place finish.

A leading collegiate and then semi-professional runner in the early days of the Title IX era, Mrs. Christensen has some pretty neat memories of her own: A New York City Marathon debut, which led to an Adidas sponsorship; several international appearances, including the first Women's International Marathon Championships in 1982 in Japan (she took eighth); and a qualifying ticket to the first ever women's Olympic Marathon Trials in 1984 (she finished five minutes behind Joan Benoit in a PR of 2:36)—all while launching a successful banking career, it should be noted.

What keeps her coming back to Pingry, season after season? "Coaching was always kind of a dream job, so I was lucky to have gotten the opportunity at Pingry. Considering what I went through in college—injuries and training mistakes—and my experiences running post-collegiately, I thought much of that could help me as a coach, and it has," she says. "I've been able to coach some phenomenal runners, but all the kids are special. To watch them go off and enjoy running in college, or maybe just for fun, that’s great. I hope the kids learn how to get what they want from running, to gain confidence from setting and achieving goals, and finally, to realize that it can be a lifetime sport." 

Sarah Christensen Pingry Athlete


Charlotte Diemar

Class of 2024

For two years, from ages 4 to 6, Charlotte Diemar '24 took figure skating lessons. She found it boring, she recalls, and eagerly switched to ice hockey, which she has been playing—and loving—ever since. As a seventh grader, she earned the distinction of being the very first girl to score. She didn't even realize it until after the game, when Middle School Athletics Director Gerry Vanasse shared the exciting news with her. She felt very accomplished, she said. 

As a varsity athlete, Charlotte continues to make her mark on the hockey program, breaking Pingry's single-season scoring record for goals (28) and points (39) during the 2021-22 season, which saw Big Blue make it to the state tournament's final four. 

A club lacrosse and ice hockey player outside of school, Charlotte says playing for Pingry feels very different, special. "It feels more like a team—we all know each other, we are more connected to one another. When we score or assist we're all happy for and support each other." 

Margi Dillon P '17, '18, '20

Upper School Spanish teacher, lacrosse and field hockey coach

Like her mother—who grew up in South Africa playing competitive sports before becoming a teacher and coach at independent schools on the East Coast—Margi was an athlete well before she, herself, became a teacher. As she will tell you—perhaps, as her mother felt—the two identities are complementary, self-reinforcing, even. 

"Coaching is very similar to being in a classroom. . . you see in a concrete way the time it takes for someone to master a new skill," she says. "One kid is going to get it right away, another will need to see it in a different way, a third will want you to stand with her and do it a few times with your guidance. Coaching is a reminder of the different ways in which kids learn, and the excitement they feel when they master a new skill."

An insatiable athlete growing up, Margi, who joined Pingry in 2004 as a Spanish teacher, was a three-sport varsity athlete and captain in high school. At the University of Pennsylvania, she played Division I varsity lacrosse and club ice hockey (she served as the team's president her last two years). After a junior-year spent in Madrid, she returned to Penn her senior year and rowed crew. Having numerous teaching-coaching experiences, with stints at schools in Bainbridge Island, Pebble Beach, Virginia Beach, and Chicago, at Pingry, she has supported the lacrosse and field hockey programs from the Middle School to the varsity level. 

The mother of three Pingry student athletes who pursue—or will, upon graduation—sports at the collegiate level, Margi has also managed to find time to coach her town's girls' lacrosse rec league for several years. She admires her mother's own athletic experiences, and champions the importance of sport for girls, in particular. "I think girls should play sports because it's fun, healthy, and encourages risk-taking. . . It is really a gift to be able to share that sort of experience with a bunch of high school kids who want to learn and challenge themselves. Perhaps what I love most is the laughter and connections made on the field."

Margi Dillon Pingry athlete


Peter Youssef

Class of 2022

Come fall, every day after school you'll find Peter Youssef '22 treading water in Beinecke Pool. For two hours. He and his teammates also perform kicking drills, practice their passes and shots, and then scrimmage. In short, Pingry's Varsity Water Polo Team is not for the faint of heart. But then again, it's a sport Peter took up at his local YMCA when he was 10, and he's loved it ever since.

When Peter, who plays for a club team in Princeton during the off-season, applied to Pingry in Grade 9, the very fact that the school offered a varsity water pool team was a big draw for him. After a year on the team, he hasn't been disappointed. "Coach really helped me to learn a new lob shot, which has been very useful in my games, as well as a pump fake." 

Last March, he was one of 14 under-14 athletes in the Northeast "zone" selected by USA Water Polo to participate in the Olympic Development Team's National Championships in Riverside, California. "It was a really great experience for me to get to the next level," he reflected. "It's where I want to be eventually."

Peter Youssef '22 Pingry athlete


Zara Jacob

Class of 2021

When she was 8, Zara Jacob's dad took her to the driving range for the first time. She remembers picking flowers and chasing butterflies after just a few swings. Playing golf was always just a hobby, something to do over the summer, she explains. But after enough time on the local circuit, she began hearing the names of two very skilled Pingry players. Before too long, she couldn't wait to join the varsity team. 

"I knew Ami [Gianchandani '18], Christine [Shao '19], and Ashley Lu '20 through summer tournaments and I'd heard so much about them—they were so good!" she remembers. "I was really intimidated at first, but it was great to play with better players. It was huge for the mental aspect of my game; they taught me so much. Before high school, I thought golf was just a hobby. When I joined the team in the Upper School, I knew it was a sport I wanted to play in college."

Speaking of which, Ami, who two years earlier was helping Zara with her chips and sand shot, is now helping her navigate the college admission process. "She taught me how to talk to college coaches, how often, and when. She even shared with me her inquiry emails to coaches from five years ago!" says Zara. 

Most vivid among Zara's memories as a Pingry student athlete to date is when the team took gold at the 2018 Tournament of Champions, a sublime end to an undefeated season. Everyone played their best, she recalls, rattling off their scores: 70-70-79-80. "I remember Ami had said that if Ashley and I break 80 and Christine goes under par, she would jump in the course lake and yodle," Zara laughs. "She didn't end up doing it, but I remember that. We joked about her promise for two weeks leading up states! It's one thing to be a great player, like Ami, but it's another to inspire other people to become better."

Zara Jacob '21 Pingry athlete


David Fahey '99, P'33, P'34

Varsity Soccer Associate Head Coach

Mr. David Fahey '99, P'33, P'34, or "Coach Fahey," as he is known in the hallways of our Basking Ridge Campus, returned to our community in 2011 after practicing law. A staunch proponent of teamwork and team-building, he has demonstrated his abilities on this front not only in his role as Associate Head Coach of the Boys' Varsity Soccer Team for more than a decade, but also in his current role as the Director of the Office of Institutional Advancement.

Mr. Fahey previously served as Director of Operations, Safety, and Strategic Initiatives as well as Director of Alumni Relations and Senior Major Gifts Officer for Athletics.

Among many other initiatives he has undertaken at Pingry, Mr. Fahey helped introduce Enterprise Risk Management (ERM), creating a systematic way for his colleagues and the School to identify strategic risks, formulate plans to increase the likelihood of success in risk-taking, and or mitigating the myriad of actual and potential risks inherent in the business of operating an organization as sophisticated as Pingry.

Anthony Ramlochan

Class of 2021

Anthony Ramlochan ’21 had dreamed of playing soccer for Big Blue since he arrived at Pingry in Grade 6. He played throughout Middle School, and was even elected captain of the team in Form II. As a freshman, he made the JV roster. But his inaugural game didn’t turn out the way he envisioned.

“I had just made an assist to tie the game when I heard a pop,” he recalls. “I fell to the ground and knew something was wrong.” Six hours later, he was in the operating room to repair a stress fracture in his tibia and growth plate. He was disappointed to lose out on his freshman season, to be sure. But the lessons he learned through recovery were valuable ones. “Getting over the injury was pretty hard, but I learned how to be resilient,” he recalls. He attended home games when he could, but spent most of his time focusing on recovery and academics. He won’t soon forget how Assistant Coaches Wayne Paglieri and Jeff Patten visited him in the hospital before his surgery. Or how often Associate Head Coach David Fahey ’99 would stop him in the hallway at school to ask how he was doing.

Anthony looks forward to his comeback in the fall, and to reconnecting with his passion. “I’m a pretty quiet person; I let my soccer do the talking. When I’m on the field, I’m not thinking about anything else.”

Anthony Ramlochan '21 Pingry athlete


Sandra Adablah

Class of 2021

As a freshman new to Pingry, Sandra Adablah ’21 eagerly dove into life as a Big Blue student athlete. She pursued the same sports she had played in her Middle School, joining the Girls’ JV Field Hockey, Basketball, and Softball Teams. “I thought the teams at my previous school were close, but then I came to Pingry!” she says with a smile. “I love the team culture. Last fall the field hockey team played laser tag together. It was such a great memory. We are all friends and teammates, no matter the grade. It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s also so much fun.”

She says the rigor of the two-hour practices, not to mention dedicated time in the Strength & Conditioning Center, have made her a better athlete. “I dreaded going to the weight room at first—the planks, neckercizes to protect from concussions, barbells, sprints—but I really grew to love the team lifts every Tuesday and Thursday from 3:00–4:00 p.m. I love being all together.”

As for future athletic goals, Sandra, a shooting guard on the Girls’ JV Basketball Team, wants to score as much as possible, and perhaps even hit 1,000 career points and a spot on varsity by her senior season. “It’s a lot to score in just three years so I'm not 100% sure that I'll do it,” she says of her goal. “But I am 100% sure that I will put in my full effort and play to the best of my ability!”

Sandra Adablah '21 Pingry athlete


Ben Peacock

Class of 2020

Playing defense on the varsity team as a freshman, Ben Peacock ’20 scored Big Blue’s very first goal in the 2017 NJSIAA Lacrosse State Championships, launching them to what would be their third straight Non-Public B state victory. “My teammates were jumping all over me. Coach Webster was really proud. All the seniors came over to congratulate me,” he recalls. “That was a really memorable moment for me.” The following year, he played an integral role again in helping the team to their fourth consecutive title.

Winning two back-to-back state championships as a sophomore is pretty special. Equally special, he says, is being part of—and learning from—such a close group of teammates. A lacrosse player since the second grade, Ben, who also plays basketball for Big Blue, credits his fellow Pingry teammates and the tough competition they face during the season with helping him to improve his game. “But also,” he adds, “the academics have taught me how to manage my time and be productive when I’m not playing. I’ve learned how to prepare better—know when I have an away game, know what work I need to get done, and be proactive about it.”

Halfway through his high school career, Ben is hoping to put another two state championships under his belt. But he doesn’t lose sight of the advice he and his teammates got one day from Coach Webster. “We all talk about the championships, he told us, but it’s really not about the championships. It’s about the relationships you form with your friends and teammates; you consider them family.”

Ben Peacock '20 playing varsity lacrosse


Ryan Davi

Class of 2021

Picture this: At the vaunted NJSIAA Meet of Champions for the 2017-18 indoor track & field season, freshman phenom Ryan Davi ’21 steps up to the line, alight with nerves, listening for the starter’s gun in the championship 800-meter run. Under her belt already that season were several school record-breaking 800-meter performances, including a 2:15 at the Armory Track & Field Center’s Varsity Classic, which qualified her for the prestigious New Balance Nationals. But this was the race, the race where she wanted to prove that freshman talent can, in fact, keep pace, even at the end of grueling season.

“I thought that 2:15 was a good goal for the race, but that 2:14 and 2:13 would be my limit,” she recalls. “But running 2:12 and placing second really surprised me. I was trying to keep the #1 runner in my sights the whole time. During the race, several runners passed me and then I passed them again. When I saw the clock in the last straight-away I was just so excited. My whole family and extended family were there cheering me on. Even my younger brother’s wrestling coach came!”

She broke Pingry’s school record yet again, earning the 10th fastest time of any high schooler in the nation, and the best time for a freshman.

The race, she says, was a standout moment in a successful freshman athletic campaign, one that included helping Pingry’s 4x800 meter relay team to a ninth-place finish at Nationals one week later, and, helping to lead the Girls’ Varsity Lacrosse Team to a #10 state ranking that spring.

She credits the support she got from Pingry coaches for allowing her to pursue her lacrosse passion, and not shoehorn her into the outdoor track season. “I don’t think it’s a good idea to play one sport all year; I want to be versatile as an athlete. Track and cross country [which she ran in the fall] are individual sports and I put pressure on myself. Lacrosse is different because it’s a team sport and there’s more togetherness. I really enjoy both,” she says.

Which is why, when asked what Big Blue goals she’s most looking forward to achieving in the years ahead, she can’t quite decide. “I’m excited to step up more in lacrosse next year, as seven seniors are graduating. I won’t be the freshman on the team anymore; I can step into a bigger role. I’m also excited to get faster and improve my 800 time, especially now that I have the confidence. I want to break 2:10. That’s going to be exciting.”

Ryan Davi '21 running 4x800 meters at indoor Nationals


Henry Wood

Class of 2021
A unit on cross-country running in his sixth-grade P.E. class got Henry Wood ’21 hooked. He joined the Middle School team in seventh grade, the first year competitive teams are offered to Middle Schoolers. In his very first meet, against Far Hills Country Day School, he won. “I surprised myself a little bit that first meet,” he remembers. “I wasn’t expecting to place that high, but I was pretty happy.”

Come spring track season, he won every 800- and 1600-meter event he raced. A year later, as an eighth grader, he avenged his runner-up status in both meets the year before by winning the competitive Ed Scott Invitational—on Pingry’s home course—and Gill St. Bernard’s Great Pumpkin Run.

Henry’s love of the sport—and talent—is a family affair. His older brother, Stewart ’14, who captained Big Blue’s cross-country team his senior year, competed for Dartmouth College for a year (an injury forced an early end to his running career). His older sister, Anna ’18, also a standout runner at Pingry, recently broke the indoor track school record in the 3200-meter run. A lover of math, who also plays ice hockey in the winter (“I like to go fast!” he says), Henry embraces the work ethic and persistence that running require. “Like schoolwork,” he says, “you get out of running what you put into it.”

Henry Wood '21 running cross country


Boy swimming butterfly