SMUS Teacher Feature: Ms. Nancy Mollenhauer

Ms. Nancy Mollenhauer is a born and bred Victorian. She grew up only a few minutes from SMUS in Gordon Head, and did all of her schooling in the area, including her post-secondary education at the University of Victoria. It was in Grade 8 that she was first introduced to field hockey and, over the next few years, became one of Canada’s best. While studying at UVic, she also played field hockey at the provincial and national levels – including winning medals at two World Cups and competing in the 1984 and 1988 Olympic Games. She retired from the sport after the 1988 Seoul Games, and soon got a job at SMUS teaching phys ed.

Today, Nancy teaches phys ed at the Middle School and coaches the Senior girls field hockey team. Among her awards and distinctions, Nancy was two weeks ago induced into the Victoria Sports Hall of Fame.

Let’s get to know Ms. Mollenhauer better:

What was your favourite subject in school?
Probably PE, but I loved Social Studies. My four older brothers were history buffs and were always talking about history, and my dad had been in the Second World War, and would tell stories from his time. I was drawn to that historical storytelling.

What was your first job?
I worked at Foot Locker selling shoes. And at the same time, I worked as a camp counselor for the YMCA.

What do you do on a day off?
Play with my family. I enjoy squash, field hockey, running, road riding, and just hanging out with my daughters.

Where do you most want to travel, but have never been?
Nepal because I would love to see Mount Everest with my own eyes. I have no desire to climb it but I would love to see it in person.

What’s one goal you want to achieve in your lifetime?
To raise healthy, confident, strong daughters.

What did you do after high school?
That’s when field hockey started to pick up for me – so I was playing provincially and working as a day camp leader in the summer. I’d work during the week for Saanich parks and rec, and on the weekends I was training in Vancouver.

Why did you want to be a teacher?
I love kids. I enjoy learning. Coaching is what I loved first. I coached girls softball for Gordon Head Little League at a pretty young age and found that I loved the connections and the relationships you can nurture with the people.

What did you want to be when you were 10 years old?
I always thought being a firefighter or a professional ice hockey player would be pretty cool.

When have you felt your biggest adrenaline rush?
The first time I heard the anthem played wearing the Canadian jersey and knowing that my parents were in the crowd. That was at the L.A. Games. My parents had seen me play provincially, but they had never seen me play for the national team. That was a very significant moment for me having them there to share that experience.

What was the first concert you went to?
Trooper at Memorial Arena.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve overcome?
Losing my mom before she got to be a grandmother to my children.

What’s one thing you can’t live without?
My daily dose of exercise. If I don’t get it, I”m not a very fun person to be around.

What movie have you watched the most?
The Sound of Music. It was the first movie I went to as a kid, and I’ve watched it every Christmas season for as long as I can remember.

What has been your most memorable teaching moment?
It’s when you finally connect with an athlete or a student that has been a project for you. It’s when you finally make in-roads and have that ‘aha moment’. It’s such a wonderful feeling when you feel like you’ve made a difference in a young person’s life. And I’m happy that in this job, that happens a lot.

Have you ever won anything?
I’ve been fortunate to be recognized for some awards through my sport. It’s gratifying, but I always say that it’s my family and friends and community and coaches and teammates who carry those awards with me.

Have you ever been on TV?
I was interviewed on the street in Toronto on an issue that was totally Torontonian. We just happened to be walking past a camera and got pegged for this interview about something that we knew nothing about, but we played along and made something up.

Do you collect anything?
Rocks and shells from beaches from places I visit. I’ve got a pretty solid collection at home.

What are you currently reading?
Girl Runner by Carrie Snyder. It’s historical fiction about a woman who grew up in the early 1900s and won a medal for Canada at the 1928 Olympics.

What’s the best part of your job?
Getting to hang out with kids and playing.

What’s your favourite meal?
Fresh caught salmon or crab.

What do you love about living on Vancouver Island?
I love the fact I can wake up in the morning and go to the ocean and see the mountains. There are so many beautiful places in the world, but hands down this place is the best.

What was your favourite childhood Halloween costume?
A witch. I had this really awesome witch mask that looked pretty scary.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

If you didn’t have to work, what would you do?
I’d still be doing something involving kids or coaching or teaching. I love it.


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