Fry and Vallandingham Shine as Recipients of Inaugural NFHCA Coaching Impact Award

May 16, 2024 | 2023-2024, News

MANAHAWKIN, NJ — The National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) Awards Committee is pleased to recognize Leslie Fry and Anne Vallandingham as the inaugural recipients of the Coaching Impact Award. The NFHCA Coaching Impact Award recognizes a club or scholastic coach member who has made a significant, positive impact on players, teams, and the field hockey community, beyond the pitch. This award celebrates not only a talented coach but also their leadership and positive mentorship on players’ personal growth. These honorees foster and instill strength of character, leaving a lifelong impact on the lives of those they coach.

Fry has been at the helm of the field hockey squad of Chelsea High School in Chelsea, Michigan, for nearly five decades. In 1980, she collaborated to create a recreational league for children aged third through eighth grade – laying the groundwork for skilled high school players down the line. Her creation of the Washtenaw Whippets field hockey team in 2004 gave young women from more than five school districts the opportunity to play. The numbers grew in such size that teams were able to spin off and establish themselves in their respective districts, essentially doubling the amount of schools with field hockey teams in southeast Michigan. Chelsea Field Hockey (formerly the Washtenaw Whippets) has succeeded tremendously since, notching many State championship and runners-up positions. Fry has also served as a board member for Great Lakes Regional Field Hockey, and now serves as Chairperson since 2020. Further, she serves as the USAFH Michigan State Chapter Lifetime Engagement Chair.

“Leslie Fry has devoted her life to field hockey. She loves the sport, what it does for young women, the communities and lasting relationships it fosters, and the confidence it builds in our youth. As her daughter, I personally have benefited in my life from her work. The middle and high schools I attended did not have teams. She founded these programs so I could play, which allowed me to play at the collegiate level. She has been a role model for me as I have built my career as a high school and club coach. Leslie Fry has given me and so many people the chance to have field hockey as a powerfully impactful part of our lives,” said Corey Block, former player and daughter of Fry’s.

Vallandingham has devoted nearly 30 years of her life as the head field hockey coach at Chopticon High School in Morganza, Maryland. She has overseen 324 games with a record of 177 wins, 142 losses, and five ties. Notably, she clinched the Regional Championship titles in both 2021 and 2022. Her influence extends beyond the high school level, as she has coached over 10 Chopticon High Field Hockey Players who went on to compete at the collegiate level. Additionally, six of her former players have transitioned into coaching roles within the conference, spanning schools such as Chopticon High School, Thomas Stone High School, Great Mills High School, and St. Charles High School. Her dedication and expertise have garnered her several accolades, including being a two-time recipient of the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference Coach of the Year award and the Enterprise Coach of the Year award. She has also been honored with induction into the Chopticon Athletic Hall of Fame. Beyond her local impact, Vallandingham has contributed significantly to field hockey in Maryland, serving on the Maryland State Field Hockey Committee since 2009, acting as secretary for the Maryland State Field Hockey Coaches Association from 2006 to 2009, and coaching the Southern Maryland Eliminators from 2010 to 2016. Moreover, she has organized numerous parks and recreation camps aimed at nurturing the passion for field hockey among Southern Maryland’s youth.

“Words cannot begin to describe the inspiring impact V has left on me, both inside and outside the sports arena. She has been an incredible role model, and I am so grateful she held me and my team to such high standards. Her hard work and dedication to the team has made me realize how lucky I am to have her in my life. She has taught me so much about the sport, but she taught me so much more about myself. She encouraged us to be individuals and pursue our dreams. I went on to become an educator, just like her,” added Tori White (Furr), former player of Vallandingham’s.

Coaching Impact Award honorees will be celebrated at the 2025 NFHCA Annual Convention in Lake Mary, FL.

The National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) is a nonprofit organization serving field hockey coaches and supporters of the game from across the United States. The mission of the organization is to champion, strengthen, and celebrate field hockey coaches and the game. The NFHCA strives to cultivate and recognize the professional contributions of its membership and to foster and promote the growth of the sport. The NFHCA is responsible for providing a recognizable presence and voice in regard to legislation affecting the sport as well as interscholastic and intercollegiate programs.