Local scholar-arthlete lands local teaching and coaching job
Stillwater's Molly Hoyer goes from Wellesley to Blair Academy


Molly Hoyer graduated from Wellesley College cum laude Photo provided

By Laurie Gordon
STILLWATER — When Molly Hoyer's crew coach got a look at her schedule, she couldn't believe an undergrad could balance so much. Hoyer did, and on top of all of her academic challenges and a huge commitment to the college's varsity crew team, she not only just graduated, but did it cum laude.
Crew, or rowing, is the oldest intercollegiate sport in the United States. Hoyer did not take an interest in it until her academics had taken her to presigious Wellesley College.
Her major wasn't anything run of the mill. Hoyer chose Comparative Literature, with a concentration in North Africa.
“My biggest challenge, academically, was definitely my thesis this year, in large part because it was so hard to balance it with everything else I was doing,” she said. “ It’s exciting to have such a big project that you’re so invested in, that you really want to make as detailed and thorough as possible, but I often fell prey to the common mistake of doing too much research and no writing, because I could just sit and think and talk about the project for ages, but then when it came time for me to sit down and produce work, I would prioritize my other courses, or my work as House President.”
It was such an ambitious project, too.
Hoyer said, “There was so much to hold in my head and paths to follow, and having an adviser for the project is not like having a professor in a course. There were a lot of times where I really could have used an entire course to teach me about a certain aspect of the research, and I just didn’t have that and I didn’t have the time to fully teach myself, and that was hugely challenging. But, we made it through.”
Hoyer had two very challenging academic moments that stand out in her mind.
“The first was when I was in Morocco in December 2016, presenting on my research paper for my formal Arabic course,” she said. “I had researched sustainable agriculture in Morocco, looking at two case studies in particular as well as government policies and NGO programs. The presentation went very well, and all of my professors and the program directors were proud not only of the research I had done and the understanding that I had gained, but also how well I was speaking about the material in Arabic. I did most of the research in English, but the paper had to be written in Arabic, and it was such a satisfying feeling to see all of my classmates and professors and mentors appreciate all the work that I had done.”
She said, “The second was when I presented on my thesis this May at the Ruhlman Conference, a conference held every spring at Wellesley for students to present on independent research. It was immensely rewarding to be able to see people responding to the work that I had done, and interacting with the information. Two professors who I really consider as mentors were there, one of whom was my advisor, and I could tell how much they respected my work, which was so meaningful.”
Hoyer grew up in the hamlet of Stillwater, as a child spending a lot of time on her grandparents' farm. She went to Kittatinny Regional high School where she was into the arts and music. She wasn't an athlete... yet.
Hoyer applied to about eight schools her senior year of high school, and really thought her top choice was Bennington College, in Vermont, where she did get accepted.
“I actually got wait-listed at Wellesley, and although I hadn’t thought that Wellesley was my top choice, I was really disappointed when I got the wait-list letter,” she said. “I had already planned to go on a gap year and had everything set up for that, and it worked out well in the end, because so many students defer from Bennington to take a gap year that they have a very simple process for it. I was able to defer my acceptance there for a year, and was then able to reapply early decision to Wellesley while I was in Belgium, and with a much better application the second time around, I got accepted. Definitely a story of listening to my gut, or my instinct, and just trusting in that.”
It was mainly thanks to word of mouth and a roommate of Hoyer's sister, over at Smith College, that led her to crew. The roommate had spoken highly of it and there was a buzz about it around the Wellesley campus.
Hoyer said, “My new friends I met during Orientation started talking about the novice crew meeting, so I asked if they would bring me back any forms and information from it since I couldn’t make it myself. I sat on the forms for about a week, then remembered to ask my friend when the deadline was, and i had missed it by a day but she gave me Seth, the novice coach’s, email, and he let me get it in a day late and told me when practices would be, and then I started going and never stopped.”
Of four years of crew, Hoyer said, “This is going to sound cliche, but there’s really not one proudest moment: because any success comes from the success of the entire team, it’s from the fact that up and down the roster, we’re all working to be as strong and fast as we can be. I’m proudest when I see a first year learning to back squat, or I see a fellow senior finally hit the PR on the erg machine that she’s been shooting for over multiple seasons with all the rest of the seniors cheering her on. I’m proudest when I see one of my teammate’s tutoring another on her latest chemistry assignment, or when half the team shows up to someone’s research presentation during lunch.”
She added, “I was the proudest, I think, of what I’ve accomplished at the end of the year team dinner - a few of the underclassmen say something about each senior, typically their little and one or two other people. My little, who is a year below me, and a first year stood up to talk about me, and as they were speaking all of my teammates were nodding and snapping and agreeing with what they were saying, and that meant so much to me, to hear the ways in which I’d impacted my teammates’ experience of this sport and their time at Wellesley.”
Hoyer attended the Nationals all four years. Her team's nationals placings were as follows:
1st year -- Sacramento, CA: 3rd place team, 4th place 1V, 2nd place 2V
2nd year — Sacramento, CA: 1st place team, 1st place 1V, 2nd place 2V
3rd year — Princeton, NJ: 3rd place team, 3rd place 1V, 2nd place 2V
4th year — Sarasota, FL: 2nd place team, 4th place 1V, 2nd place 2V
Hoyer rowed in the 1V, the first varsity boat, at NCAAs all four years.
Moving forward
These days, every college student worries about finding a job after graduation. For Hoyer, it happened to come right in her own backyard.
“My parents happened to meet the recently-hired head of rowing at Blair Academy when he and his wife visited our church back in September, and as they were talking, they mentioned me and what I was doing at Wellesley,” Hoyer said. “He was the one who suggested that I apply to private schools and gave me the idea of working at Blair. I sent in an application in January, like he had recommended, and found out that the Dean of Faculty there is actually a Wellesley alum. She was coming back to campus in a few weeks, so we talked when she visited and then I was invited to visit after about a month of phone calls with other members of Blair faculty and staff.”
Before this year, Hoyer had not planned on becoming a teacher.
“I had always really enjoyed helping other people with their work and had considered becoming an editor because of that,” she said. “Once I became serious about the job at Blair, I tried to observe my professors in class and try to figure out what was working for students and what wasn’t. I started trying to pick up on everything I possibly could learn.”
This fall, Hoyer will both teach and coach crew at Blair.
Hoyer is indebted to her family for all of their support.
“They've helped me in so many different ways,” she said. “I’m not really one to reach out to them to talk about what’s happening in my life, and not only are they super understanding, but they also encourage me to reach out when and how it feels right. So even though they’d joke with me about how infrequently I called home, or even responded to messages, they always just reminded me that they were there if I needed anything and how proud they were of what I was doing. I always felt encouraged to keep going with crew and to take the classes that interested me the most.”