Legendary Rutgers coach Sandra Petway involved in ‘tragic’ accident, friends start fundraiser


Ann Petracco went to Trenton State College with Sandra Petway and they continued their friendship at Rutgers, where the two became legendary coaches for the Scarlet Knights.

So when Petracco learned the news in July that Petway had been involved in a frontal car crash that left her unable to walk, the former Rutgers field hockey coach rallied his support.

“Sandee was just a role model, friend, colleague, and I just wanted to be able to help,” she said.

Petracco created a GoFundMe campaign on Friday to garner support for Petway, which NJ Advance Media featured in July.

The story can be found HERE.

But here is a few words:

A 1967 graduate of Vineland High with a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Trenton State, Petway became the first black head coach in Rutgers history in 1973, when she started the program in female athletics at the state university.

“Like so much sadly at Rutgers, over time some of those historic firsts are lost,” said Rutgers athletic director Pat Hobbs after being briefed by NJ Advance Media on Petway’s history. “Now that we realize it, we absolutely have to celebrate it. This is historic for Rutgers; it’s a proud moment for Rutgers. It should be celebrated – and will be. ”

Petracco said a Rutgers athletics official contacted Petway on the day of his accident near his home in Venice, Florida. She said Petway was at a Bible study at the time and promised to call back that evening.

“Coming home, that’s when the accident happened,” said Petracco, who posted a career record of 247-220-40 before retiring from the Rutgers field hockey program in 2002. .

While working together at Rutgers, Petracco watched Petway make the most of their female track athletes to the point where the program reached rarefied air for a fledgling program.

Petway mentored a half-dozen runners to record nationwide performances in the program’s first four years, coached his first cross-country team to a record 8-0 in 1976 and is became a full-time coach for Rutgers in September 1977. She left school three years later for a business position with Johnson & Johnson in North Brunswick, then carved out an impressive career as director of pharmaceutical sales.

“I think I was color blind when it came to recruiting, but I’m very proud that I was able to offer as many scholarships to African American athletes as I did,” Petway told NJ Advance Media earlier. This year. “They were partial scholarships, but that in itself was a blessing to them. The same thing happened when I became a business. I made a point of hiring African Americans in the pharmaceutical industry. It is an industry where the door was closed.

Petracco believes the same fighting spirit displayed by Petway as a coach will help him improve his rehabilitation.

“It will be a long road,” said Petracco. “She has such a great mind-body connection. If anyone can get over this, hopefully she will get her hand movement back. So it’s going to be a lot of good rehab and people will pray for her. ”

Here is what Petracco wrote on the GoFundMe page:

Hello my name is Ann Petracco and we are running this campaign for our dear friend, classmate and colleague, Sandee Petway, a resident of Venice, FL also from NJ. Sandee Petway, former Rutgers women’s track coach and Abbott Industry employee, suffered a tragic car crash in July 2021. She suffered a C5 / 6 fracture and a spinal cord injury to her head during of a collision. She was at Sarasota Memorial Hospital and transferred to Neuro Restorative in Sarasota, Florida. During rehabilitation, there is some movement of the shoulders. Your financial support is needed for Sandee’s long term care.

She was a talented track and field athlete, coach, teacher and mentor. There is a nice article on NJ.com showcase your career by breaking the color barrier; the same day she was in the crash, Rutgers had contacted her to honor those accomplishments.

Our dear friend needs your help, she is strong with a great mind-body connection. Your financial support will give her the care she needs now and in the future.

Keith Sargeant can be reached at ksargeant@njadvancemedia.com.


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