Elise Forry is the most recent student-athlete to play at the collegiate level when it comes to the Fairbanks, Forry and Engle trio of families.
Mary Fairbanks was inducted into the Elizabethtown Area High School Athletic Hall of Fame in 2013. Two of her children, Art Fairbanks and Beth Forry, were inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2011 and 2015, respectively.
Art Fairbanks, Beth Forry and Amy Engle are the parents of Sarah Fairbanks, Jen Fairbanks, Rachel Engle, Anna Forry and Elise Forry. All four children have gone on to compete at the collegiate level.
Sarah Fairbanks was a two-year captain and 1,000-point scorer for Division I Saint Joseph’s women’s basketball team. She also holds the school record in shotput and discus.
Jen Fairbanks is heading into her senior season at Messiah College on the women’s basketball team, the defending Middle Atlantic Conference Commonwealth champions.
Rachel Engle is a junior defender for the McDaniel Green Terror women’s soccer team that clinched a berth in the NCAA tournament.
Anna Forry recently completed her junior season for the Central Michigan field hockey team.
All of these familial roots trace back to Elise Forry, who recently finished her freshman season at Slippery Rock University. The athletic environment that Forry was raised in is something that she said shaped her as both a person and a player.
“Sarah is very modest and a very nice girl. Jen plays as well. Rachel and my sister both put a lot of effort into their sports and they’re very well-rounded people. They have shaped who I am as a person. I owe a lot to them for where I am at today,” Forry said.
In her freshman season at Slippery Rock, Forry started all 18 games and led the team in minutes played (1,588) as a center back. Slippery Rock finished the season 10-6-2, good enough for sixth in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference. It was the 20th consecutive season that the program won at least 10 games.
Leading the team in minutes played as a freshman for a successful program is something that Forry, admittedly, did not expect when she arrived on campus. While Forry was formulating those thoughts of her own, third-year coach Jessica Griggs was envisioning Forry as a stalwart on a defense that needed a layer of consistency.
“Elise committed a year-and-a-half before she got here. We graduated two center backs and an outside back. Only one returning player had played on the back line prior to this season,” Griggs said. “I told Elise, ‘We think you have the potential to make an impact.’ We knew she had it in her. We had seen her play for so long and gave her the knowledge that she needed. I told her, ‘You can have the job if you want it.’”
Griggs gives credit to her assistant coach Mark Sappington for discovering Forry and being the primary recruiter throughout the process. Sappington is responsible for focusing on the defense and goalkeepers, according to the team’s official website.
“He and I have a good relationship and he knew what we would need. She would check in with him and eventually I got to go to some tournaments and watch Elise play. I immediately saw a lot of potential,” Griggs said. “Obviously, it has been a pleasure to have her and we knew that she had potential, but we were overly impressed with her.”
The connection that Forry made with Griggs, Bathington and the university is what made Slippery Rock her No. 1 school.
“I wasn’t overwhelmed with a lot of choices. There was not a lot of feedback from many coaches and I was worried about that at first. Slippery Rock checked on me daily and really wanted to get to know about me more than my soccer abilities and that meant a lot to me. One school is really all you need and it seemed obvious,” Forry said.
During her time at Elizabethtown Area High School, Forry was a standout in soccer, basketball and lacrosse. She received eight varsity letters across all three sports and Griggs, an advocate of high school sports, was glad to see Forry was involved with more than just soccer. At the Division II level, Griggs said that there is no purpose in being sport-specific and there is more to gain by playing other sports.
“Elise was going to stand out in whatever sport she played because she was so athletic. Being a three sport athlete is awesome because they’re active all the time,” Griggs said. “I asked Elise about her free time now that the season is over and she said, ‘I’m bored.’ I like to recruit kids with an athletic mindset.”
As the team began the training sessions to prepare for the 2017 season, Griggs said that Forry’s fitness stood out and was the most physically fit player on the team, which is particularly important for a center back.
“I came in very nervous. I thought freshman year would be a learning year and a really big challenge, but I just worked really hard over the summer and it went really well. I learned a lot from my teammates,” Forry said.
Alongside those teammates, Slippery Rock allowed 16 goals in 18 games, which was the fifth fewest in the PSAC. Their goals-against-average was 0.867, which was 52nd in the nation.
“We’re a possession-oriented team. We want to have a backline that is comfortable bringing it out and not just banging it forward. Elise is really, really composed. She always has a plan on the dribble; she has great size and a lot of speed. So for a center back to compete in the air and compete physically, those are the best qualities of a center back,” Griggs said.
On the team’s official roster, Forry is listed at 5-foot-9, which makes her the tallest player on the team. For all of her athletic ability, Griggs frequently raved about Forry’s background outside of soccer.
“When we recruit players, we’re big on getting to know their character. Mark spoke very highly of her. We want the right people in the program first. She is a very well-rounded person,” Griggs said.
Maybe it runs in the family.