You could make the case that Mark Conroy’s career began in second grade when he started playing organized football. Throughout his school days, he played the game, captaining his team at Middlebury College, where he earned All East honors and a nod as Honorable Mention All American.
Conroy has spent 33 years coaching (mostly football but also basketball and baseball) at boarding schools, 30 of those serving in the Athletic Director role, as he has at Williston for the last 18 years. He stepped down as football coach at the end of the 2015-16 school year, continuing on as AD. As a fitting tribute to a career devoted to inspiring excellence and modeling leadership for young people, Conroy has been elected to the NEPSFCA Coaches’ Hall of Fame.
As a result, one of the seven NEPSAC championship football bowl games, which are named for hall of fame inductees, will be named the Mark Conroy Bowl.
“I arrived at Williston in the fall of 2000 stepping into the very big shoes of Rick Francis who was the longtime AD and football coach,” Conroy said. Francis started at Williston in 1958. “Thanks to Rick’s leadership, Williston had a very rich tradition and it was always very important to me to sustain this legacy of football here.”
As Williston’s football coach, his record was 84-46 with 3 bowl berths. However, to him, the experience was bigger than the numbers. “For me it was less about the win-loss record and more about what I like to call the magic of football—the relationships that were formed and the life lessons that were learned playing this great game. I never ceased to be amazed at what transpired over the course of 10 weeks in terms of relationships, many of which will withstand the test of time. I loved playing football but I always felt that I loved coaching it even more because I had the privilege of sharing this experience with coaching colleagues I liked and admired, as we aspired to provide our boys with the most positive football experience possible.”
That commitment to mentoring youth is evident to all who work with Conroy, including those who played football for him.
“There weren’t any bad days playing for Coach Conroy,” said Noah Clack ’18. “Not only was he a great coach, but everything he did was done with pure class.”
“There’s not a better man,” said current football coach and college counselor Tom Beaton. “Although he’s a fantastic coach, his players would say he’s a teacher and role model first and a coach second.”
“Mark Conroy embodies the highest standards of coaching,” said Head of School Robert W. Hill III. “His 17-year tenure as Williston’s football coach, while remarkable for the record he amassed, was even more noteworthy for the life lessons he bestowed on countless young men.”