Julie Dayton ’81 is reluctant to sing her own praises, but, when pressed, she credits her success to hard work and serendipity.
As director of athletics at Saint Catherine’s School in Richmond, Dayton manages 90 coaches who coach 45 teams. “I coach the coaches,” she said. “It keeps me busy in the best possible way. And I like keeping busy.”
What’s kept her moving for much of her life is athletics.
“Athletics has always been a driving force for me. Not many people from my high school in Laurel, Delaware—a small town with a Tastee Freez and a couple of stoplights—went on to college. But there were some great coaches who encouraged me to continue my education.”
And just when Dayton began college athletics, Longwood reinstated the women’s lacrosse program. “At 18, I wasn’t thinking about picking up a new sport, but that twist of fate changed my life forever. The doors that lacrosse opened made my career.”
After four years as a star lacrosse player at Longwood, Dayton was a 10-year member of the United States Women’s Lacrosse National Team, playing in the 1986 World Cup and selected to the 1984 Olympics exhibition team.
“A lot of it was part-time and self-funded,” said Dayton. “I was coaching full time simultaneously, so it required a lot of juggling. But I loved it.”
Dayton coached field hockey and lacrosse at UVA for nine years from 1985-92, and was head field hockey coach at Dartmouth from 1993-99. At those schools, she worked with smaller groups of elite athletes. Today at St. Catherine’s, Dayton interacts with a broader swathe of younger athletes.
Was she born a gifted athlete destined to do great things?
“I was quick and fast,” she said. “If there’s a ground ball, or a chance to go to the goal or to stop an opponent from going to goal, I’m all in for that.”