A true impact player, Claire broke the Foxcroft lacrosse 50-goal barrier in 2005, when she scored 51 as a senior. She also had 24 assists, and became the first Foxcroft player to earn Loudoun County Player of the Year honors. Claire was one of the first Foxcroft players recruited to play NCAA Division I lacrosse, which she did at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. She gave Foxcroft a lacrosse identity.
“I was really surprised when Mrs. McGehee told me I had been elected to the Hall of Fame,” said Claire, who lives in Hillsborough, CA, and is a Wellness teacher and athletic coach at Castilleja School in Palo Alto, CA. “It’s very cool.”
Eliza, whose many equestrian accomplishments include the American Grand Prix Association Rookie of the Year Award and four Nations Cup U.S. Team victories, was also delighted to hear of her HOF election. “It’s quite an honor. I was very much surprised,” she said. “Foxcroft meant so much to me in my development as a person and a rider.”
Claire learned lacrosse from her father, Philip Mancini, who helped introduce the sport to California. At Foxcroft, Claire won the Teresa E. Shook Award as a senior. She also played field hockey and rode, serving as captain of Foxcroft’s championship riding team in 2004-05. After seeing action in 10 of UMass’s first 12 games in her sophomore year, Claire’s collegiate career was curtailed by an injury.
Claire, who has a BA from UMass and an MA from the University of San Francisco, helped organize Castilleja’s first lacrosse program and has been head coach since 2010. Her commitment to developing her players to be better people as well as top athletes earned her finalist status for the 2014 Bay Area Positive Coaching Alliance Double-Goal Coach Award.
A born competitor, Claire continues to challenge herself athletically by participating in triathlon, a grueling combination of running, swimming, and cycling. She finished third in the 2016 USA Triathlon Long Course National Championship in Miami and qualified for the 2017 International Triathlon Union Long Course World Championship in 2017.
Eliza started collecting accolades early. At age 13, she earned USEF First in the Nation honors in Junior Hunters and added the Amateur Owner title several years later. Although her sister Nancy ’89 spent three years at Foxcroft, Eliza came as a junior and mostly because of riding.
“The Exceptional Proficiency Program was great for me because it allowed me to concentrate on riding while also doing my studies,” said Eliza, who competed in major shows along the east coast and trained in Ocala, FL, all winter. “I was at a public school before coming to Foxcroft and I couldn’t really do any riding while attending school.”
A member of the Riding Officers Club and Foxcroft Riding Team as a senior, Eliza was also Grand Junior Champion at the Middleburg Hunter Classic that year. She transitioned to jumpers after Foxcroft and won the AGA Rookie award in 2010, while she was a student (pre-med, no less) at Davidson College.
From 2006-2008, Eliza rode on four U.S. champion Nations Cup teams and won a number of grand prix events, including the $150,000 FTI Grand Prix at the 2007 Hampton Classic, when she outrode several Olympians in a dramatic performance.
A lifelong resident of Hickory, NC, Eliza retired from grand prix competition in 2012 and recently gave up much of her teaching, training, and breeding business to focus on her three-year-old twins, Nancy and Brantley.
Established during Foxcroft’s Centennial in 2014, the Sports Hall of Fame honors athletes, coaches, teams, and “pioneers” who have demonstrated exceptional athletic prowess and/or had a meaningful impact on the world of sports, and exemplify the highest standards of sportsmanship, ethical conduct, and character. Athletes must have been graduated for at least 10 years to be eligible.
Members of the Hall of Fame voting committee are: Foxcroft Athletic Director Michelle Woodruff, Director of Riding Kate Worsham, former athletic directors Joan Eliot and Katie Ryan Kantz, Hall of Famers Jacy Edelman ’95 and Kitty Palmer ’72, and Teresa E. Shook Award winners Jennifer Sgro Orfield ’91 and Cricket Bedford ’85, who also coached at Foxcroft. Fred McMane, a three-sport coach at Foxcroft and founder of the Hall of Fame, serves as non-voting chairman of the committee.