Team WeCOACH

 

Vanessa Fuchs, CEO

(she/her)
vanessa@wecoachsports.org

A veteran leader with 20+ years of experience in athletic administration, Vanessa Fuchs joined WeCOACH as Chief Executive Officer in March 2022. Before WeCOACH, she served 12 years as Senior Associate Athletics Director and Senior Woman Administrator at her alma mater, Florida State University.

In her first 18 months, WeCOACH membership has grown 740 percent, grant funding has more than doubled, Academy scholarships funding has quintupled, and new leadership programs have launched to advance the WeCOACH mission to recruit, advance, and retain women in coaching.

Vanessa’s tenure at FSU began in 2010, where she served in a variety of important leadership roles over the past decade. Named the 2015 Women Leaders in College Sports Division I Administrator of the Year and an FSU Champion Beyond the Game honoree in 2016, she was instrumental in providing strategic direction for departmental initiatives focused on student-athlete welfare, enhancing athletic performance, fundraising and revenue generation, gender equity, and diversity and inclusion.

In June of 2013, former Florida State President Dr. Eric Barron named Vanessa the school’s interim Athletics Director as she became the first woman to lead the Seminoles’ Athletic Department. The former Seminole basketball player was one of just seven women leading an athletics department among the 124 schools that participated at the FBS level in 2012.

Prior to arriving at Florida State, Vanessa committed seven years to the NCAA in Indianapolis in Academic and Membership Affairs. She got her start as a Championships Intern with the ACC in 2001. The Pompano Beach, Florida, native was a four-year letterwinner for the Seminoles’ women’s basketball team from 1997-2001. She was the team co-captain in her senior year and finished her career as a four-time ACC Honor Roll selection.

Vanessa graduated Magna Cum Laude with a bachelor’s degree in communications at Florida State University and earned her master’s degree in sport administration from the University of North Carolina. Vanessa resides in Tallahassee, FL with her longtime partner Chrissy and their two French Bulldogs, Fenix and Frankie (aka, “The UNcoachables”).

 

Marci Kornegay, Director of Leadership Programs & Events

marci@wecoachsports.org

Marci Kornegay rejoined the WeCOACH staff in July 2023 as the Director of Leadership Programs and Events, following her previous role with WeCOACH as the Director of Membership from June 2018 to October 2021, including a part-time advisory role in April and May 2022. 

During her tenure as the Director of Membership at WeCOACH, Kornegay contributed to the significant growth in membership numbers and spearheaded increased engagement through the introduction of new and revitalized virtual programming opportunities.

With 20 years of experience in collegiate golf as a Coach, LPGA Teaching Professional, and playing career at The University of Mississippi, Kornegay achieved notable accomplishments as the head coach at The University of South Florida, earning two Big East Coach of the Year honors and leading her team to a conference championship. Kornegay also served as the vice president of the Big East and American Conference Coaches Committee and contributed to the NCAA DI Golf Championship selection committee. She also had assistant and associate coaching stints at Louisiana State University, Winthrop University, and University of South Carolina.

Marci’s entrepreneurial spirit shines through her diverse ventures, including being a licensed Realtor, a Podcaster, assisting others in realizing their small business ideas, starting her own business, and substitute teaching in her spare time.

Driven by personal growth and adventure, Marci thrives on pushing her limits through physical, mental, and emotionally challenging endeavors, particularly backpacking long trails. She has hiked nearly 10,000 miles, completing the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail, the New England Trail, and Potomac Heritage Trail systems, along with numerous other trails via foot and bike. Her ultimate adventure goal is to conquer all 11 National Scenic Trails.

Marci holds a bachelor’s degree in Hospitality and Outdoor Management from Ole Miss, where she was a member and team captain of the women’s golf team and a master’s degree in Organizational Leadership and Change Management from Colorado State-Global. She is a proud graduate of the NCAA Women Coaches Academy, class #25 in 2011.

Currently residing in New Jersey with her partner and two beloved cats, “Cedar Biscuit” and “Foxy Rebel,” Marci daydreams of potential “Van-Life” living, fueled by her passion to explore all 63 National Parks, play golf in all 50 states, and to personally engage with and strengthen the WeCOACH community along the way.

 

Maria Lopez, Senior Director of Memberships and Inclusion

(she/her)
Maria@wecoachsports.org

Maria Lopez has over 18+ years of tennis coaching experience at all levels of the game, with twelve of those years at the collegiate level, with her most recent stop as the Associate Head Coach at Boise State University where she helped implement a vision of excellence through community  outreach, alumni engagement, player and program development, revenue generation and fundraising, as well as driving and collaborating on DEI initiatives for the athletics department.

She has coached five conference titles and two NCAA national championship teams at the collegiate level, as well as being named the ITA Regional and National Coach of the Year on two different occasions. She also worked with a Top 50 WTA player. As a player, she was the former number one player in Venezuela during her junior career and a two-time All-American in 2001 and 2002. In addition, she was a three-time All-Sunshine State Conference selection. She is currently a board member for the Latina Tennis Coach Association and volunteers some of her time with the Sports Equality Foundation.

She is a graduate of the 2022 NCAA Women Coaches Academy Class #51 and an active member of the Professional Tennis Registry (PTR) since 2010. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in E-Commerce and a Master’s Degree in Sport Management from Barry University. She is passionate about equity in women’s sports, particularly for women coaches, and is committed to empowering change to create inclusive environments to help benefit the lives of others.

 

Whitney Showalter, Director of Leadership Events & Branding

whitney@wecoachsports.org

Whitney Showalter comes to WeCOACH after spending the last 8 years at her alma mater, Virginia Tech, where she served as the Director of Operations for Softball. Showalter has plenty of ties to the softball program there as both a former player and coach. In two seasons as the volunteer assistant coach, she helped pave the way for successful 2012 and 2013 campaigns, ones that saw the Hokies reach the NCAA Regional finals both times. Both years she was on the staff, the coaching staff earned NFCA Northeast Region Coaching Staff of the Year honors.

Showalter played a key role in all phases of the Virginia Tech softball program as she served and led the coaching staff in multiple areas, including donor relations, alumni relations, recruiting visits, team travel and equipment. She served as the financial manager for the program. Showalter was also the liaison between the program and the business office, facilities, marketing, strategic communications and the student-athlete development departments. While at Virginia Tech, she was instrumental in the creation and direction of large-scale events including the annual Leadoff Banquet with donors.

Showalter spearheaded the partnership between TeamWorks, a communications and operations database, and the Hokie softball program. As the marketing liaison, she worked with the marketing department to successfully plan promotions for all home games at Tech Softball Park. She also ran yearly postgame clinics that have seen almost 400 kids over three years. Showalter also played a vital role in hosting the 2015 ACC Softball Tournament at Tech Softball Park, as well as an integral player in the creation of Virginia Tech softball’s new Indoor Batting Facility.

Showalter graduated in 2011 with a degree in psychology and a minor in sociology from Virginia Tech and completed her master’s in education, curriculum and instruction from VT in 2013. In 2019 she earned an MBA in Virginia Tech’s Pamplin Business School. Showalter still serves as the softball representative on the Virginia Tech Monogram Club Board. She also spent time as a coach and the director of a youth softball travel organization based out of Blacksburg called the NRV Diamonds. She also spends time in the broadcast booth, calling several Virginia Tech games for the ACC Network, as well as the entire 2014 NCAA Division II National Tournament for NCAA.com. In 2020 she founded her own photography business.

Showalter currently resides in Blacksburg, Va with her husband, David, the Associate Vice President of Finance at Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM). The couple has two children, Camden (4) and Chase (2), and their English bulldog, Beau.

 

Lizzy Ristano, Associate Director of Member Outreach & Engagement

lizzy@wecoachsports.org

A veteran softball coach having spent the past 17 years as Associate Coach of the University of Notre Dame Softball team where she was the lead hitting and outfield instructor, Lizzy Ristano joined WeCOACH in September 2022. As a member of the ND coaching staff, the Irish softball team advanced to the NCAA tournament in all 17 seasons that Ristano was on staff. In addition, she was a part of a staff that received coaching staff-of-the-year honors in 2014, 2016 and 2017. She also spearheaded the team’s fundraising efforts as well as numerous leadership development opportunities with the players.

Lizzy grew up in Irvine, CA as a two-sport athlete playing Soccer and Softball at Woodbridge High School. Her Great Uncle played football for Knute Rockne, so It was always a dream of hers to attend the University of Notre Dame. She received a scholarship to play Softball at the University of Notre Dame, where she was a 4-year starter with the program. By her senior season, the Irish Softball team compiled the most successful season in school history with a 54-7 record and #7 national ranking. She graduated with a major in Sociology and a second major in Computer Applications in 2001.

After graduation from Notre Dame, Lizzy interned in the athletics department for one year under administrators Missy Conboy and Sandy Barbour. She attended the University of Massachusetts Amherst and received a Master’s degree in Sports Management (’03). After graduating from UMass, she spent one year with Boston College Athletics Development in the Flynn Fund as an intern. The development job at Boston College led to a job back home on the west coast at Stanford University in the Athletics Development office where she worked primarily with the Buck Cardinal fund, Stanford’s annual giving fund. After a year and half at Stanford, she headed back to Notre Dame to coach at her alma mater.

Lizzy currently resides in Annapolis, MD where her husband Chuck is the head baseball coach for the Naval Academy. The couple have 2 children, Jane (7) and CJ (3).