Rachelle Pecovsky: Making the Sacrifice
By Rich Cook
This profile was written in 2006.
Sacrifice. The game of football is replete with the complete surrender of individual goals and ambitions. And yet the game itself remains an interesting paradigm: team success is only possible through individual achievement. However, there cannot be any level of personal success without an equal or greater offering to the greater good.
Perhaps no player on the D.C. Divas roster embodies this philosophy more than first-year running back Rachelle Pecovsky. The all-purpose weapon out of the Divas backfield neither works nor lives anywhere near the Washington metropolitan area. For Pecovsky, a commute to even a team practice can be an odyssey that would have made Homer proud.
Three times a week, three hours each way, Pecovsky somehow manages the distance between her current home in Portsmouth, Virginia, and the Divas practice and game facilities in Prince George’s County, Maryland. “Whichever way I’m going, north or south, that last hour is always the toughest,” admitted the Divas running back. “I’ve had to give up a lot…but DC is where I really wanted to play.”
A year ago, the Pennsylvania native was transplanted to the Tidewater area of Virginia. Because of her new location, there was a time when Pecovsky doubted if her football career would continue. Than came the recruiting call from the nation’s capital.
“My friend, [DC linebacker] Amy Juang said you should come play for us,” explained Pecovsky. “Because of the distance, I didn’t know if it would work out until Coach [Ezra] Cooper called. After I talked to him, I was ready to be a Diva.”
The effort and dedication that it takes just to attend a practice has translated into success on the playing field. Pecovsky is only the second back in franchise history to rush for over one thousand yards in a single season. “I’m an interesting combination of size, speed and power,” said Pecovsky. “I think the three together is what makes me dangerous. It’s not just me though, it’s the system…in this offense I feel like I’m home.”
Home, however, is somewhere that Pecovsky rarely sees. Between the constant to and fro of her commute comes the exorbitant responsibility of running her own small business. Life as a freelance personal chef allows for a certain amount of free time flexibility, although the wear and tear of a thrice weekly 200-mile plus commute carries its own weight.
“There have been all sorts of sacrifices,” Pecovsky admitted with a wistful sigh. “Financial sacrifices, personal and relationship sacrifices…I couldn’t do it without the support of my family, especially my fiancé. But being with this sort of organization, with these types of coaches and players…that’s what really makes it all worthwhile.”
The delicate balance between personal, professional, and athletic pursuits brings a unique stress to her daily life. Not that pressure bothers someone like Pecovsky very much. As a former college track star and gymnast, the white-hot focus of attention is something that she relishes and enjoys. “I don’t get nervous. In fact, I love the spotlight. I think that’s when I’m at my very best.”
That drive to excel, both literally and figuratively, is two-fold: Pecovsky’s dedication to become a better player is only matched by her desire to win another championship. Six years ago, she won a national championship as a member of the Philadelphia Liberty Belles. But that was then, this is now.
With that in mind, Pecovsky recently brought her championship ring to practice. Not to gloat, but to inspire. “I wanted everyone to know what one looks like and how special it is to have one.”
The Divas playoff push for a championship of their very own has become an all-consuming goal for Pecovsky. “I want this one even more. That first year was such an experiment because the league was brand new. No one knew what to expect. Are we any good? Is anyone else? Now there are expectations. On this team, there is only one goal and that’s a championship. Nothing else is acceptable.”