On Feb. 1, the Howard County Women's Athletics Hall of Fame will induct five new members. Since being established in 1997, the Hall of Fame has honored 68 men and women who have made extraordinary contributions to Howard County women's athletics.
This year's inductees are Mike Bossom (Andover, 1988), Shannon Saltzman Webster (Centennial, 1993), Allison Valentino (Atholton, 1993), Tatyana McFadden (Atholton, 2008) and Merri-Ellen James (Glenelg, 1983).
The induction ceremony will be held Saturday, Feb. 1, at 6 p.m. at Mt. Hebron High School. An alumnae basketball game will be played prior to the ceremony at 5 p.m. and a high school girls varsity game between Centennial and Mt. Hebron follows at 7.
Mike Bossom coached the Centennial Eagles to eight state volleyball championships (five consecutive from 1996 to 2000) and 214 wins (against less than 20 losses), becoming one of the most successful high school volleyball coaches in Maryland, before taking over the Goucher College (Division III) program in 2006. He became the second-winningest coach in program history in five quick years.
At Centennial, he was twice named All Met Coach of the Year, and dozens of his players went on to play collegiate volleyball. Bossom has also served as head coach of the U.S. Men's Standing Disabled team, which he led to a fourth place finish at the 2000 Paralympics in Sydney, Australia.
A 1988 graduate of Andover High School, Bossom earned a degree in education from Towson University in 1994. He and his wife Teresa have three children — Jonathan (12), Connor (12) and Brianna (8) — and he continues to work as a physical education teacher at Centennial.
Allison Valentino graduated from Atholton in 1993, after starring in soccer, basketball and lacrosse. She was named captain and MVP of both her lacrosse and basketball teams, and had her No. 13 lacrosse jersey retired soon after graduation, having scored 179 career goals and 61 career assists.
She was Atholton's Outstanding Female Athlete as a senior. A member of the National Honor Society, Valentino graduated from Loyola College in 1997, attending on a lacrosse scholarship, and earned a Masters in Clinical Psychology from Loyola one year later. As a Greyhound, Valentino earned IWLCA All-American, regional All-American and All-CAA honors her junior and senior seasons. She helped Loyola to its first National Championship appearance as a senior, and scored three goals in a 7-6 win over Maryland that ended the Terrapins 50-game win streak.
Allison Valentino Fondale is gearing up for her seventh season as the U.S. Naval Academy Associate Head Lacrosse Coach. She also served as the Ohio University head coach, and has two daughters, Elaine (2) and newborn Claire with husband Joseph Fondale.
Shannon Saltzman Webster graduated from Centennial in 1993, having led the Eagles volleyball team to a 38-0 record and two state championships in her final two seasons. She also played basketball and lacrosse for the Eagles, averaging 9.8 points, 8.1 rebounds and 4 blocks per basketball game, all team-highs, as a junior. She, however, focused solely on volleyball as a senior.
She was the Howard County volleyball Player of the Year as a junior and senior, collecting more than 300 kills and 90 point blocks those two seasons. She was named the Baltimore Sun Player of the Year as a senior. She went on to become a three-year starter for Maryland, finishing her career ranked fourth in total blocks (298) and third in block assists (261). As a senior, Saltzman tallied 247 kills and helped the Terrapins finish the regular season 16-0 with the program's second ACC championship. The team was the first in program history to earn a top 20 ranking by the AVCA Division I Coaches poll.
Saltzman graduated magna cum laude in 1998, earning Bachelor's of Science degrees in Decision Information Systems and Management Science and Statistics, before finishing a Masters degree in Electronic Commerce two years later. She was a three-time ACC Honor Roll member, and was the only USAA All-American Scholar recipient in program history.
After college, Saltzman went on to coach club volleyball in Maryland, Connecticut and Georgia, helped coach the Georgia State University team for six years, and continues to play on a USA volleyball team that competes at a national level.
"My parents saved money to send me to college, but given I was awarded a full scholarship, they used the money to follow my team as I played in college (only missing one of my many games over my four-year career – it helps that I selected to play at Maryland so all my home games were a short 45 minute drive from home)," said Saltzman, who has two sons — Samuel (6) and Noah (2) — with her husband, Michael Webster, who played for the Maryland mens volleyball team. "They were also able to pay for the remainder of my graduate school (the part my post grad scholarship didn't cover) such that I was able to start out after college with no school debt. I am very grateful for that."
Saltzman Webster now works as the Director of Solutions Delivery for Abel Solutions, Inc. in Alpharetta, Ga.
McFadden was born in St. Petersburg Russia in 1989, paralyzed from the waist down as a result of spina bifida. Deborah McFadden, a commissioner of disabilities for the U.S. Health Department, adopted Tatyana while on a visit to her Russian orphanage and brought her back to Baltimore. Tatyana competed in a variety of sports growing up, showing natural athleticism, but would eventually become a worldwide star through wheelchair racing. She first competed at the highest level in the 2004 Summer Paralympics in Athens, Greece, and has gone on to win numerous silver and gold medals, including three golds at the 2012 London games. In 2013, she won the Boston, Chicago, London and New York marathons, becoming the first person to win four major marathons in one year. She holds the course record for the Chicago Marathon.
She graduated from Atholton High School, and is now studying toward a degree in Human Development and Family Studies at the University of Illinois, where she also plays on the school's wheelchair basketball team. The Al-Jazeera Network plans to interview McFadden at this year's Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
Merri-Ellen James played four varsity sports at Glenelg High School, graduating in 1983, and earned All-County honors in field hockey, basketball and softball. She was the field hockey Player of the Year for Howard County, and was named MVP of her field hockey and basketball teams. She competed in track as a member of the Gladiators state champion two-mile relay team. She learned how to run the hurdles from her field hockey coach, Ginger Kincaid, and went on to place second in that event at the county championships.
James was named the Glenelg female Athlete of the Year. A class president and member of the National Honor Society, James went on to graduate cum laude from California Poly Tech University in 1987, attending on a field hockey scholarship, before earning a master's degree from Johns Hopkins. James is now a Group Director in the Office of Marketplace Eligibility Appeals at the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare in Baltimore.
She has continued to stay competitive, running more than 25 marathons and five ultra marathons. She has recently taken up swimming lessons, and helps coach her son, Cole Mattheu-James, in basketball.