OCEAN CITY- Ocean City’s own Fred Engh, founder and president of the National Alliance for Youth Sports (NAYS) and long-time youth sports advocate, will be inducted into the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore Hall of Fame tonight.
From a small trailer park in Fruitland with a wife and three kids, to being inducted into a Hall of Fame 12 miles down the road at UMES might seem like an accomplishment to brag about, but for Ocean City native Fred Engh, it’s another milestone in a remarkable career.
“It’s a lesson to anyone out there that if you believe, it can happen,” he said this week.
Engh’s life is certainly testament to that. Since graduating from UMES, then known as Maryland State College, he has devoted his life to spearheading enormous changes in youth sports, which have benefitted millions of children worldwide. In recognition of his global impact he is one of 10 highly distinguished honorees, including the late Clarence Clemons of Bruce Springsteen’s E-Street Band, being enshrined in the UMES Hall of Fame this evening.
Engh stepped on the campus of Maryland State in the early 1960s, at a time when racial tensions in America were at their most volatile, and played a leading role in breaking the color barrier on campus as the only white member of the school’s all-black golf team.
Engh helped revolutionize collegiate golf, which until then had been a segregated sport. It was during road trips with his teammates to cities where segregation and Jim Crow laws were still practiced that Engh saw firsthand the power of sports. It was those experiences that launched him on a lifetime crusade to help children worldwide have opportunities to reap the benefits of playing organized sports in a safe and positive atmosphere.
“Without the opportunity to get my degree in physical education at Maryland State College, I probably wouldn’t be far from that trailer park today doing something that never fulfilled me,” he said. “I am forever grateful to the openness of the students and professors who made it a memorable educational experience in my life.”
Engh created the West Palm Beach-based National Alliance for Youth Sports in 1981, which recently celebrated its 30th year as the nation’s leading advocate for positive and safe sports for children. As an outcropping of the NAYS, Engh helped found the Sammy Wilkinson Memorial Golf Tournament, named for his late grandson, along with the Sammy Wilkinson Foundation and its Global Gear program under the umbrella of Fred Engh’s successful NAYS program. Engh was named one of the 100 Most Influential Sports Educators in America by the Institute for International Sport in 2007.