When going to a varsity boys’ water polo practice, you would not expect anyone except the players and maybe the coaches to be found in the pool during a rigorous practice—except for maybe Athletic Director and PE teacher Jessica Peisch. This year, Peisch made the goal to show up to each sports’ varsity practice at least once. Working nine years at Redwood as an Athletic Director and PE teacher, Peisch’s commitment to the athletics has been acknowledged.
On Dec. 17, the California State Athletic Directors Association recognized Peisch for her worth ethic, awarding her the title of Best Athletic Director of the Year. In 2015, Peisch won a similar award for best girls Athletic Director, but never has won the entire section.
“It’s really nice that the California Coaches Association honored me, that I’ve been dedicated to being an Athletic Director and trying to provide a positive environment for our school sight and our student athletes, and just having a wonderful athletic experience,” Peisch said.
Peisch is actively involved in Redwood athletics in a variety of ways, whether it’s ordering uniforms, helping student athletes or visiting and even participating in team practices.
According to Peisch, being an Athletic Director takes time and patience, as she has to organize everything that goes on involving Redwood’s athletics. The majority of what Peisch does as an Athletic Director takes place behind the scenes, which is why students may be unaware of what her job encompasses.
“The Athletic Director is overseeing all the interscholastic sports out of sight. So all of these things are items that you have to oversee: the personnel of teams, the eligibility process, the business side, paying bills, facilities, safety, timelines for teams and game management meetings,” Peisch said.
Peisch also explained that as the Athletic Director, she is the person who represents Redwood athletics, whether it is at meetings or at games.
“You represent your school, for example, at the MCAL meetings, even state meetings, and then making sure the community knows, trying to get information for when games are, celebrating student achievement, and awards,” Peisch said. “Here in our district, all Athletic Directors teach one period of PE as well. It’s 80 percent Athletic Director, and 20 percent teaching and duties for all three sights.”
Peisch devotes the majority of her time to being an Athletic Director, a position that provides the organization necessary to run an athletic program consisiting of 1,040 student athletes, according to Peisch.
According to Athletic Trainer Americ Alvarado, Peisch’s coworker since 2009, he is proud of Peisch for receiving this award, as it reflects Peisch’s worth ethic.
“Her ability to adapt and change with the schedule as games are canceled, added, fires, floods, she has put in the commitment into making sure everything is scheduled and organized,” Alvarado said.
According to Alvarado, Peisch’s role as an Athletic Director is not only difficult, but an important job in keeping after-school athletics organized.
“I only know her as an Athletic Director, so I can not compare her to other [Athletic Directors]. I think she does a wonderful job for our community and what it entails,” Alvarado said.
Along with Alvarado, senior Cale Tippett’s mother Jenny Tippett has worked closely with Peisch while she has been president of the Benchwarmer’s Club for the past five years. The Benchwarmers club handles all the funding that comes from the foundation and goes towards Redwood athletics.
“It’s really unusual for an Athletic Director to take on her job so personally. She just embraces it completely,” Jenny said.
According to Jenny, in 2016 Peisch started a program called Unified Athletes, which allows kids in the Tamalpais Union High School District who are part of Special Ed to participate in sports.
Jenny was not surprised to hear that Peisch was awarded Best Athletic Director of the Year.
“I go to these athletic council meetings; where you have Drake, Tam and Redwood present in the same room; and every couple of months they meet. The other Athletic Directors at both Tam and Drake, even though there is healthy competition amongst all of them, they all look up to Jessica for leadership. She is pretty terrific,” Jenny said.
While Peisch is honored to be awarded, she thinks there is still much work to be done to improve athletics at Redwood. Each year Peisch sets a goal for herself, and this year’s goal was to attend each varsity practice at least once, so she could better understand what it is like being a student athlete.
“It kind of gives the feel of the environment, what our student athletes go through from school, straight to practice, the hours, the dedication it takes and just kind of see what they experience,” Peisch said.
Jenny has witnessed Peisch at athletic practices participating and getting to know the athletes.
“She showed up to the pool for water polo and had her suit on, her rash guard, her cap and her water bottle. She just totally went for it for an hour with those boys,” Jenny said.
Cale, a varsity water polo athlete, also said that Peisch’s presence at his practice shows her dedication to better understand athletic programs and how they function.
“It created a great bond between her and the player,” said Cale. “Not many athletic directors would [participate in a varsity water polo practice] and that really shows she is invested in the programs at Redwood and truly cares about them.”
Jenny has enjoyed working with Peisch and is looking forward to continuing working with her. She hopes staff and students recognize and appreciate Peisch’s work ethic.
“It’s just well-deserved. She is super subtle and in the background, but she is definitely a force, a force for her kids and a real champion for her athlete students. I feel that [students] are very lucky, and I feel very lucky to be able to work with her as well,” Jenny said.