After 46 years at Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia, Director of Riding Nancy Peterson has decided to hang up her hat.
“I just thought it was time,” said Peterson, who turns 79 in May. “I have not been coerced or pushed or pressured to do this. It is my decision. I’m really happy with it. I just feel like it is time for new leadership and somebody else to come in and take over the program—[someone] who’s younger maybe and more energetic, more stamina than I’ve got. The only expression I can use is, ‘It’s time.’
“Every single person who I’ve talked to, when I asked that question, the answer has been the same. The answer: ‘You’ll know when it’s time,’ ” continued Peterson. “It’s hard to put it into words, and that’s exactly the way I feel. I feel it’s time, and I can’t really explain it. I can’t put it into words. But it’s time, and it’s truly my decision.”
Since Peterson arrived at the women’s liberal arts school in 1972, Hollins riders have earned 19 Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association individual national championships, four Fitch Trophy/Cacchione Cup Individual National High Point Rider titles, 21 Old Dominion Athletic Conference titles and two IHSA national team championships.
Peterson won the IHSA Achievement Award in 2007, and she’s earned the ODAC Coach of the Year honor five times. She was inducted into the Virginia Horse Shows Association Hall of Fame in 2012, earned Horseperson of the Year for VHSA in 2004, and earned the Andrew M. Montgomery Award in 1998 for her dedication to the association.
“They were not Hollins accomplishments, but they were personal accomplishments through Hollins,” said Peterson. “If it were not for Hollins, I would not have been able to accomplish so many things.”
While Peterson plans to remain at the school to find her replacement, she looks forward to traveling and exploring more hobbies in the horse world.
“I love showing horses in the breeding division, and my goal is to get a pretty yearling and show it on the line and to be successful,” said Peterson. “Once I get settled, I’m going to scour the country and find a pretty yearling or weanling and prep it.”
Hollins recognized Peterson in 1999 with the Roberta A. Stewart Service Award, an award that honors an employee for his or her “long-term service, loyalty to the university and its principles, and deep caring for students and colleagues.” In addition, the school gave her the Distinguished Service Award in 2009 and the 2011 Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, which “pays tribute to members of the campus community who have shown by daily living those qualities emblematic of the spirit of love and helpfulness to other men and women.”
“Hollins has been so good to me over the years—the family has just been wonderful. The administration has just been so cooperative and helpful. I’m going to try to find a good person to come in and take over what I’ve been doing,” said Peterson. “I love Hollins. It’s just been a wonderful ride, and I will always be a Hollins girl.”