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Allison Fondale of St. Mary’s High named Maryland State Athletic Director of the Year

St. Mary's High School athletic director Allison Fondale, seen standing outside the school's new team house at Pascal Field in Annapolis in January 2019, was named one of two Maryland State Athletic Directors of the Year on Friday.
St. Mary's High School athletic director Allison Fondale, seen standing outside the school's new team house at Pascal Field in Annapolis in January 2019, was named one of two Maryland State Athletic Directors of the Year on Friday. (Adam Zielonka / Baltimore Sun)

St. Mary’s High School athletic director Allison Fondale was named one of two Maryland State Athletic Directors of the Year on Friday.

The award is presented by the Maryland State Athletic Directors Association to “athletic administrators who have made a significant impact on the lives of students and used athletics to achieve progress in the social and cultural environments of their school and the community,” according to a press release.

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Fondale is the third athletic director from a Catholic school to receive the award, which has been presented annually since 1978, the release said. Fondale was surprised to learn she had won.

“It’s an honor just to have my name mentioned alongside some of these tremendous athletic directors throughout the state of Maryland,” said Fondale, who has been the school’s athletic director since 2014.

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Northwest High (Montgomery County) athletic director Anne Rossiter is the other recipient.

Additionally, administrative assistant Patricia “Patty” Gateau was named a 2020 Distinguished Service Award winner by the MSADA. The honor goes to “individuals outside the field of athletic administration in recognition of their length of service, special accomplishments and contributions to interscholastic athletics," according to the press release.

Fondale said “you get an award like this because of your coaches and the athletic department staff,” whom she raved about for “not being outworked.”

“I think we have the hardest working coaches and staff, and I think that is how an award like this gets noticed,” she added. “This group, they’ve been there for athletes and I’m blessed to work with them every single day.”

The CHAMPS (Character, Honor and Morality in play by Student Athletes) club, which is dedicated to student-athletes in service, and the Student-Athletes in Leadership (SAIL) program are the two initiatives that Fondale said she is most proud of.

“[The SAIL program] was really for captain development and just to make sure that our student-athletes and their captains — there are extra expectations on team captains, right? But how are we developing them, how are we guiding them and mentoring them to be the best leader that they can be to their team and throughout our school and in our community?” Fondale said.

“This program really took off last year and I credit the senior Class of 2020 because a lot of the discussions that we have in the program are student-led, so I really credit coaches for supporting the program and advocating for it but our students lead a lot of these groups. That’s what makes me proud."

Fondale coached women’s lacrosse at Navy, Ohio, Maryland and Duke before coming to the Annapolis school, and she has also served on the executive committee of the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland and Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association. She currently serves at the IAAM vice president.

“Allison Fondale is a servant leader who guides her team to make St. Mary’s and Annapolis a better place,” St. Mary’s principal Mindi Imes said in the press release. “Allison is a leader who builds a team and, because she is a self-motivated professional, her team seeks to emulate her example.”

According to the release, St. Mary’s has seen a 7 percent increase in student athletic participation, captured 21 championships, set a new record for the number of championships achieved in one year, had six coaches named Coach of the Year and five student-athletes named Athlete of the Year under Fondale’s leadership.

“Winning is not Allison’s only focus,” Imes said in the press release. “Allison guides our program toward our Catholic school mission, which is to foster an environment with mentors that help develop our students spiritually, mentally, socially and physically. She builds a community among her team — one that is working to live out the mission of St. Mary’s High School one student athlete at a time.”

Gateau has been an administrative assistant for more than 20 years and was the first at St. Mary’s to serve that role in the athletic department. She has worked with seven different athletic directors and assists in overseeing the school’s 36 athletic teams.

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“This award is about service and Patty has dedicated her life to service,” Fondale said in the press release. “Patty is highly respected by all she works with, whether at St. Mary’s or at an opposing school. She is a true servant leader, dedicated to others and strives to make St. Mary’s and those around her to be the best they can be.”

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