Tony just spent the morning in the St. Mary School
gym. He’d been painting motivational Biblical quotes—
the same ones used by Peyton Manning when he retired
from the Broncos—on the walls to inspire his Kindergarten through 8th-grade student athletes.
Today’s not the only day he’s spent significant time
toiling in that gym. Since he started at St. Mary nearly
seven years ago, he’s changed the ghost of a building into
a place where students play, lead, and grow.
Tony formed the athletics booster club. He held a 5k
and Fun Run to put protective pads over the yellowed
cinderblock walls. He restored and put protective shades
on the towering walls of broken windows that were
once taped up with lunch trays. Also new? The state-of-
the-art sound system to play music and announce players’
names. The energy-efficient lighting, the new hot water
heater, the entire concession stand, new sports uniforms,
and most recently, the brand new gym floor.
“I want to have something new and special every year,”
he says. What’s surprising about all this hard work and
long-term planning for these school improvements?
Tony retired seven years ago.
“I’m a Jack of All Trades,” Tony laughs as he talks about
his 38 years in the education system in New York. He was
It’s noon on a Tuesday, and my phone rings. I answered, expecting to talk with Tony Viollis, the St. Mary School Athletic Director, about his retirement before I headed
to work. I had no clue I’d hang up with a radically differ-
ent perspective on my run-of-the-mill day ahead.
THE GOOD LIFE
Every Year By Emily Hackeling
Tony Viollis performs “Jailhouse Rock” routine at a St. Mary School fundraiser in Wilmington, NC.