Class of 2009

Class of 2009

Val Dickinson


Val attended High School at Principia Upper School, in Elsa, Illinois from 1977 through 1979 and attended Principia College in St. Louis Missouri. While in college, she was named to the all-league team her junior and senior years.


She played USVBA with Connecticut Women’s Volleyball Hall of Fame member Fran VanderMeer. She played for the New London Volleyball Club, and the New Britain Volleyball Club. In 1988 while playing for New Britain, they won the New England women’s AA Open Division Regional Championship.


Val became a volleyball official and officiated with the Fairfield Board of Officials for 12 years and also served as the board’s coordinator. As an official, she was assigned many CIAC state tournament games.


It was said of Val first and foremost- she loved the game of volleyball. Whether as a player or an official, she always had a tremendous amount of positive energy. When she officiated, her energy was probably the first thing the players and coaches noticed about her.


Val connected with everyone she came in contact with. She always wanted to be the best official she could be. When major rule changes occurred, she was willing to accept the changes and she worked hard to adapt to the new rules. She wanted to make the right calls-or no calls- at the right times, for the right reasons. She was such a good person and her personal qualities were evident in all of her interactions with players, coaches, and administrators. She had the ability to keep the game in the proper perspective and kept her sense of humor even in stressful situations.


Val was an excellent referee because she cared about the job she did, and she cared about the players. She kept up with the game and she was always fair and impartial in her decision-making. Her professionalism, support a volleyball, and her dedication to the sport will never be forgotten.


Lehigh Sports: In Memory of Mom

Stratford Star

Robin Salters


Robin attended Portage Central High School in Portage, Michigan, and then attended college there as well for two years. She then transferred to the University of New Haven where she had been recruited by Connecticut Women’s Volleyball Hall of Fame member Debbie Chin.


In the two seasons Robin played (1989 and 1990), her team posted identical 33-11 records and the University of New Haven played in the NCAA championships each year.


In her senior year Robin was named the University of New Haven’s Female Athlete of the Year.


Robin went on to graduate school at Western Michigan University and returned to her alma mater as the had volleyball coach in 1994.

University of New Haven News:  Salters Tapped for Women’s Volleyball Hall of Fame

Mary Ellen Vaccari


Mary Ellen attended Southern Connecticut State University, where she said, after being mentored by the outstanding staff and taught volleyball by Louise Albrecht, she was passionate about helping student-athletes achieve excellence.


Mary Ellen was hired in 1976 by her High School alma mater, The Gilbert School, and her contract was contingent upon her coaching three sports. She has coached almost continually since then, coaching six different boys’ and girls’ sports over the years.


The volleyball program was in its infancy when she took over and was 3-9 in her first season. Over the following 10 years, her teams qualified for the state tournament each year. Her teams also won 3 Northwest League titles and after joining the Berkshire League won additional titles there as well.


In 1979 and 1981, Gilbert played in the state tournament semifinals and in 1983 played in the tournament finals. At the beginning of the ‘86 season, Mary Ellen announced her retirement in order to care for her growing family. That year, Gilbert won its first day championship title. Her 10 year record as head coach was 150 -53. Three years later, she realized she could not stay away and returned as an assistant coach to then head Coach Cindy fixer, a former player of Maryellen’s. She worked in the programs the next 22 years and in 2000, when Gilbert one another state championship title, Maryellen’s two daughters were members of the team.


Over the years Mary Ellen also ran USVBA Junior Olympic volleyball programs, as well as summer volleyball leagues. She was a Woman’s Sports Foundation “Grants for Girls” recipient, and was the 1998 recipient of the Pathfinder Award from the National Association for Girls and Women in Sports.


When Mary Ellen graduated from Southern Connecticut State University, she said she was confident she could help young women improve their physical, mental, and emotional well-being through competition. She was absolutely right.

The Register Citizen:  Coach Vaccari inducted into Hall of Fame


Holly Oslander Ismail


Holly played at North Branford High School from 1985 to 1988. She was a four-year varsity player, starting as a freshman. In her junior and senior years, her teammates recognizing her leadership ability, elected her captain.


For her entire career, Holly led her team in passing, hitting, kills, and blocks. For her career she averaged 85% in hitting, 12 kills a match, and four blocks a game. She also had 106 service aces in her senior year.


Holly was named MVP in her freshman, junior, and senior years. She was on the all-Shoreline team all four years and was named to the all-state team her sophomore, junior and senior years. In 1986, ‘87, and ‘88 her team reached the quarterfinals of the state tournament.


Holly was offered a full scholarships to play volleyball by Division I schools, however as an outstanding basketball player, she chose to play basketball at Syracuse, ending her outstanding volleyball career.

The Day:  North Branford Alum Holly (Oslander) Ismail to Be Inducted into Volleyball Hall of Fame

Gail Ericson



Gail coached at Bristol Eastern High School from 1982 until 2005. During those 23 years, her record was 332 – 139. Also during those 23 years, they qualified for the state tournament 21 times.


Bristol Eastern won 15 league championships and played in the state championship finals six times and won 3 state championships during her tenure.


In 1990, Gail was named the Connecticut High School Coaches Association’s Outstanding Coach and in 1996 and 2000 she was the National High School Athletic Coaches Association’s Regional Coach of the Year finalist.


Off the court, Gail has served as the CIAC State Tournament Committee for 21 years and was a founder of the Senior All-Star game. She was the chairman of the CHSCA all-state selection committee and co-chair the national volleyball clinic in 1996 and 2002.

Brittany Dickinson

Brittany Dickinson

Britney played volleyball at Bunnell High School from 2003 to 2006. In her four years, Brittany started every game. In a 5-1 offense, she played both as a center and a hitter. For her career she had 2,638 assists, 352 kills, 110 blocks and 496 service aces. Over those four years, the team’s record was 94 and 5! In 2004, 2005, and 2006, Brittany’s team won the SWC League championships and LL State Championship titles.


In 2003, her freshman year, Brittany was named second team all-league-a hint of what was to come. In her sophomore, junior, and senior years, she was named first-team all-league. In her junior and senior year she was named first-team all-state.


As a senior Brittany was named the Gatorade Player of the Year and the Coca-Cola Player of the Year, ending her outstanding volleyball career.