Not only are you met by a bright smile from Susquehanna’s first year field hockey head coach Allison Fordyce as you walk into her office, you are met with a poster from Lou Holtz that reads, “Ability is what you are capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.” This isn’t just a motto for Fordyce, it’s a way of life.
Coach Fordyce and her field hockey River Hawks are currently 8-7 with a 2-3 Landmark Conference record in their 2017 campaign (as of 10/9/17). There is nothing short of hard work and determination within the club, which is something that their new head coach values and embodies. Every game is a new challenge that Fordyce loves to face.
“I love the grind, and I tell my players, it’s FGD, [explicit] game day. There is nothing like it. I love the challenge of game day and trying to figure it out,” she said. With a little chuckle, “However, when we lose, no one wants to be around me.”
One challenge that she overcame in her life was when she collapsed after her second marathon and had a kidney failure.
“I got to mile 18 and I felt this burning on my insides and in my back. Through the rest of the race, I was practically hunched over,” Fordyce said.
“By the time I got to two-tenths of a mile and saw [my husband] Brad [Fordyce], he dragged me to the finish. After I hit the finish line, I collapsed.”
“But I had to finish.”
When Cayla Spatz, a senior midfielder who has been with the team for the last four years, talked about Fordyce’s encounter with kidney failure, she said Fordyce is all about “mental toughness and powering through to the end.”
“She is encouraging us to work hard and be mentally tough game in and game out,” Spatz said.
Fordyce, a Street, Maryland native, said that a lot of her work ethic comes from the way she was raised. “My parents were strict, but were teachers and hard workers, smart people,” she said, “We never had a Saturday off living on a farm.”
That hard work mentality has never left her side especially in her time at Towson University, where she received her bachelor’s degree in sports management.
“I found my identity and confidence through [field hockey and lacrosse]. If I put extra time outside of practice, I can get faster, and that preparation can make a difference on the outcome of your own performance,” she said.
Part of her dedication of her 20 year career includes long days analyzing the video recordings of their games. Fordyce, with a huge smile, said “I will stay here until midnight to watch film.” This rings true as Kaitlyn Wahila, Fordyce’s predecessor from 2007-2016 said that Fordyce is not a “nine-to-five coach. She gets right back to work after putting dinner on the table and putting the kids to bed. We’ll be texting at 11 or 12 o’clock at night talking about film.”
“There is so much respect for her and the way she balances being a mom and a coach. She has been one of my mentors because of that,” Wahila said. “It was comfortable for me to leave the team in her hands when I had my first child because she made it so easy for me.”
When it came to coaching styles, Wahila focused more on the individual skill and Fordyce on the game plan, which led them to a 15-4 record and a Landmark Conference Championship game last season.
Former SU head coach Wahila said, “[Fordyce] always had a strategy, a tactical game plan for each opponent we played, and a lot of that stems from living with a football coach.”
Former Susquehanna University defensive coordinator and current Dickinson College head football coach Brad Fordyce, along with many others, said “passion and dedication” are common attributes of his wife.
“She loves it all; the work, energy, time, she embodies the word passionate,” Fordyce said of his wife. “She finds a way to fix things and works tirelessly at it.”
It has not been the easiest of roads for the Allison and Brad Fordyce over the course of their respective careers. Despite, balancing three kids on top over 130 students combined, both stressed that everyone makes sacrifices for what they love.
Just after graduating from Towson in 1998, Allison Fordyce had to make a decision: become the athletic director of a community college in Maryland or go for her Master’s degree at McDaniel College. As a 22 year old, she became the athletic director of Harford Community College.
She spent five years as Athletic Director and head coach of both women’s Field Hockey and women’s Lacrosse but gave up the position to get back on the sidelines full time and to support her husband’s dream of becoming a head football coach.
Allison took the head coaching job at the College of Notre Dame
from 2004-2005 before she went on to be the head coach of both field hockey and the inaugural women’s lacrosse team at York College from 2005-2007.
After finally getting back on the sideline, she met another de- tour in her head coaching dream when Brad was offered the defensive coordinator position at Susquehanna. *Cue the Susquehanna connection*
Allison Fordyce became the assistant coach of the women’s lacrosse team, only to also take over as an assistant for field hockey here at Susquehanna a year later alongside Wahila up until Wahila’s departure in 2017.
For the second time, Fordyce was ready to put her dreams on hold of becoming head coach when her husband took the head coaching position at Dickinson. But something within Fordyce felt that she needed just one more season of being “jacked up” during game days.
“After months and years of wondering “What am I doing?’” things started to pan out at the right time for Fordyce and she “just couldn’t leave.”
“It’s crazy how everything works out” Fordyce said. “It’s so satisfying to have this position, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Not even for another day of peace and quiet.”