NFHCA President’s Service Award Recognizes Outstanding Contributions

Jan 29, 2024 | 2023-2024, News

Photo Credit: Able Athletics

GENEVA, N.Y. — The National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) proudly announces the recipients of this year’s President’s Service Award, honoring two individuals who have made exceptional contributions to the field hockey community. These prestigious awards showcase the dedication and excellence demonstrated by Janelle Benner and Laura Gebhart.


President’s Service Award: Janelle Benner

Janelle Benner from Ursinus College is the recipient of this year’s President’s Service Award, recognizing her distinguished presence and seamless navigation of diverse responsibilities within the field hockey realm. Currently serving as the Division III Board Representative, Janelle is deeply engaged in critical initiatives such as the Field Hockey Forward Project Team. Janelle’s dedication to Division III field hockey is unmistakable, evident through her roles as the NFHCA Division III All American Committee Board Liaison and former National Chair. She also plays a pivotal role in the esteemed NFHCA Hall of Fame Committee, serving as a valued Board Liaison. Additionally, Janelle contributes to the coaching landscape as an active member of the NFHCA Ad Hoc Coaches Poll Committee. In Janelle, we find a true exemplar of leadership and commitment to advancing the landscape of collegiate field hockey.

“The NFHCA thrives when we all are willing to give whatever time and energy we have to help grow in our profession and to grow the sport of field hockey,” stated Janelle. “On each of the committees I have been a part of in the past several years, I have been able to get more connected with fellow coaches while also growing as a coach to better equip my student-athletes and provide them with a positive experience. It is a privilege to be a part of this organization and an honor to give back whenever I can.”

When asked about advice for those aspiring to contribute to NFHCA, Janelle urged, “Get outside your comfort zone and start small to give back. Young coaches may feel like they aren’t qualified or aren’t ready, but you are. You are not only investing in the NFHCA, you are investing in your own growth as a coach and as a person.”

Regarding her first committee service, Janelle shared, “I was on the All-Region Committee about a decade ago and have been serving on different committees ever since.”


President’s Service Award Honorable Mention: Laura Gebhart

Laura Gebhart

Laura Gebhart, Associate Head Coach at Penn State University, has been awarded an honorable mention for her outstanding contributions to the field hockey community. Laura is a determined figure, wearing multiple hats as the Chair of the Hall of Fame Committee and as a dedicated member of the All-American Committee. Beyond her committee work, Laura has played a pivotal role in shaping the sport’s future. Notably, she has hosted the NFHCA Ready2Coach site for two consecutive years, showcasing her commitment to the growth of field hockey. Remarkably, Laura selflessly donated her coaching compensation back to the NFHCA during this period, embodying a spirit of generosity and dedication. In Laura, we witness a true advocate and contributor to the flourishing field hockey community.

Laura emphasized the importance of volunteerism and active participation in fostering a strong NFHCA, stating, “Volunteerism and active participation help ensure diverse perspectives are contributing to the NFHCA. While we are all cut from the same coaching cloth, we bring different perspectives about resources, access, and institutions that inform the direction and decisions of the NFHCA.”

“Pull a chair up to the table and bring others along for dinner! Meaning, volunteer when and where you can and encourage (or cajole) others to do the same, ” encouraged Laura. “Getting involved with the NFHCA is so enriching. You learn more about the breadth and depth of the organization while getting to interact with incredible coaches with whom you may not otherwise cross paths.”

The NFHCA President’s Service Award is a testament to the exemplary individuals who shape the field hockey community through their passion, dedication, and leadership. The NFHCA congratulates Janelle Benner and Laura Gebhart on their well-deserved recognition.

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.