Paukert, Mary - 1966 Graduate - Coach 1970-1994
In Mary’s senior year, 1966, North Dakota competitive sports for girls started in the spring with tennis, golf and track/field. Qualifying for the state track meet, Mary won the softball throw and placed 5th in the discus, and the next day won the state singles tennis championship, as well as the team title.
After graduating from the University of North Dakota, Mary was hired at Grand Forks Central where she coached tennis, track/field, advised 5 cheerleading squads and taught physical education for 32 years. Her tennis teams won 3 state championships (1971,1973,1974), had 2 runner-up finishes, and back to back undefeated seasons. Mary’s track teams were consistent NE Region champions as well as finishing 3rd and 5th at the state meet. A number of girls were individual conference, regional and state champions over the years, and Mary is still the only GFC female coach to be named State Coach of the Year.
Mary, or MP as she was known, became an institution at GFC, very much like her mentor Serge Gambucci. She fondly recalls the many students, peers, and moments that made and still make GFC stand out from other schools. Hearing the opening notes of “Onward Central” with the percussion and horns fills her with pride in the school to which she devoted most of her life.
Mary has made Grand Forks her lifelong home, and is especially proud of all 3 of her siblings; educators and GFC graduates. All achieved great success and recognition in their chosen fields, be it in medical, athletics, performing arts, photography and the classroom. Originally inducted as an athlete in 1991, Mary is honored to share a place in the Grand Forks Central Athletic Hall of Fame with her brother Terry and his son Charlie.
Let it be known that Mary’s example and efforts paved the way not only for GFC female athletes, but all who truly love the school, its history and its traditions. It’s no surprise that the Heart and Soul Award, named in her honor, is presented annually to a worthy staff member. Yesterday, today, and tomorrow, the pride of the Maroon & Grey is synonymous with Mary Paukert.