Penelope J. Rickard '88
When you Google-search the phrase "burned-out in junior tennis," the web-results provide nearly 10,000 entries for your perusal. You won't find the name of Penny Rickard among them.
Penny grew up in northern New Jersey. By age 10, she began to play on the hard courts with a sense of purpose. Her natural athletic talent put her on the fast track to success. By age 12, Penny had won both the New York and New Jersey Tennis State Championship for her age group. At 14, she won the Adidas Holiday Championship, a prestigious tournament for 18-year olds-and-under, beating the national indoor champion for the 14-age bracket. For Penny, this was not the drudgery of climbing the junior tennis ladder. She simply was looking to have fun.
By the time she reached high school, Penny's prowess on the tennis court was fueling a growing reputation and press coverage. She never tried out for the girls' high school team because she decided instead to compete on the boys' varsity teams at Newark Academy and Columbia High School. Not satisfied with simply excelling at tennis, she also took up running and training for marathons. Happily, her heart was set on Georgetown.
Arriving on the Hilltop in 1984, Penny went undefeated in dual meets as a freshman. She was unbeaten during her fall sophomore season in #2 singles and #1 doubles en route to a BIG EAST singles title. Penny also won a BIG EAST Championship in doubles with her partner Kathy Federici '87, and made multiple appearances in the NCAA Tournament. Twice, she earned team MVP honors. A Dean's List student and Academic All-America selection, Penny was presented the Robert A. Duffey Memorial Award, given to the senior who best exhibits excellence in both academics and athletics.
Graduating from the Nursing School in 1988, Penny went to work as a technical consultant for Minneapolis-based pacemaker manufacturer, Medtronics. By 1996, she had married, was the mother of two daughters and was living in Northport, NY. In September of that year, Penny, age 30, was training for a 10K road race when a car struck her from behind, tossing her 30 feet and causing traumatic injury to her brain. Three weeks later, she came out of a coma without any memory of what had happened and with limited memory of who she was.
Penny was down but not out. Months of special rehab were followed by years of physical therapy and eventually, Penny began running again. On September 17, 2005, with the support and encouragement of her special admirer and companion, Joseph Villarosa, Penny ran and completed the Great Cow Harbor 10K, smiling the entire way.
Penny lives in Greenlawn, NY with her two daughters Lacey, 15, and Paige, 11.