“After 26 years of coaching field hockey at Rutgers, I felt that it was the right time in my life to retire,” said Petracco. “My time here has been both rewarding and challenging. I have enjoyed every moment of my Rutgers experience. I feel grateful every day of my life that I’ve been able to excel at a job coaching a game that I love. Field hockey has always been a passion of mine from the time I was first introduced to the game. I appreciate all that Rutgers and the division of intercollegiate athletics have done for me and the field hockey program, and now it is time to start a new chapter in my life.”
Rutgers field hockey has enjoyed tremendous success under the leadership of Petracco. For 26 years, she has maintained a national-caliber program, posting a career record of 247-220-40. The Scarlet Knights have been ranked in the national top 20 poll during 11 different seasons and have advanced to the national post-season tournament on six occasions, including two appearances in the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight, under her guidance.
“Ann has been the cornerstone of our field hockey program for the last 26 years,” said Rutgers Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Robert E. Mulcahy, III. “She has maintained a long-standing commitment to excellence both on the field and in the classroom. Her experience and dedication will be missed.”
Petracco's tenure at Rutgers began in 1977 as a part-time coach and quickly turned into a full-time position when the women’s lacrosse head coaching duties were added to her job description in the fall of 1979. She coached both sports until 1991, when she turned her attention solely to the field hockey program.
“Ann did an extraordinary job guiding our program through the AIAW, Atlantic 10 and now, the BIG EAST,” said Mulcahy. “Additionally, she spent 12 seasons coaching both field hockey and women’s lacrosse, with both squads performing at a high level.”
In her first four seasons coaching field hockey, she led the Scarlet Knights to appearances in the EAIAW Regional Tournament. After numerous appearances in the EAIAWs, the Scarlet Knights advanced to the NCAA Tournament’s Elite Eight for the first time in 1984, and again reached the quarterfinals in 1986. The Knights earned their first-ever post-season title in 1997 when they won the ECAC Tournament. In addition to the national tournament experience, Petracco’s teams made eight straight conference tournament appearances (1988-95), including the 1995 BIG EAST Tournament championship game. Petracco reached the 200-victory plateau on Sept. 16, 1997, with a 3-2 win against Saint Joseph's.
Along with the team’s accomplishments have come individual accolades. During her career, Petracco has coached 60 regional all-Americans and 10 national all-Americans, most recently Andschana Mendes (1998-2001), who captured her third consecutive third-team all-America award as a senior in 2001. Petracco also has coached seven national-team members and 46 all-conference team members while “On the Banks.”
As the head coach of the women’s lacrosse team for 11 seasons (1980-91), Petracco amassed a 66-97-3 record, including a 10-6 mark in her final season. Her lacrosse players earned 11 regional all-America awards, five national all-America certificates and one national academic all-America honor. Five Scarlet Knights played in the North-South All-Star Game during Petracco’s tenure, and four single-season and four career records at RU are still held by her former charges.
Petracco's coaching success began with a four-year stint at Pompton Lakes (N.J.) High School, where she also taught physical education. She then returned to her alma mater, Madison (N.J.) High School, where she continued teaching and coaching.
A member of the National Coaching Committee from 1981-85, Petracco has coached at "A," "B" and "C"-level Olympic Development Camps and was an assistant coach at the 1987 Olympic Festival. The New Jersey regional director for USA Futures from 1990-93, she also coached at Super Camp from 1995-97. She also has conducted the nationally-prominent Competitor’s Edge Field Hockey Camp each summer at Rutgers.
Her playing days began at Trenton State College (now known as The College of New Jersey) on the varsity squad. She also was a part of the North Jersey Association team, where she earned New Atlantic sectional first-team honors, and was named to the USA National Squad in 1976 and 1977. She also played one season at Worchester College in England.
The Belmar, NJ, resident earned her bachelor's degree in health and physical education from Trenton State College in 1970, and also attended the Worchester College of England. In 1981, she earned a master’s degree in education at Rutgers.