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2016 Hall of Fame Inductee Julie Dayton

2016 Hall of Fame Inductee Julie Dayton

Back then, girls from Laurel High School in southern Delaware didn’t really go to college to play sports. Actually, it was rare then for anyone from Laurel to go to college for anything. Of the 100 or so students Dayton graduated with, she estimated, maybe 25 went on to some sort of college.

But Dayton’s basketball coach said she was good enough play sports in college. So Dayton, who played field hockey, basketball and softball, started handwriting letters to the names she found in the scholarship guide.

The letters went up and down the East Coast, and out to the Midwest. A few came back as undeliverable. One letter made its way to Farmville, Va., where it ended up in the hands of the woman who would became Dayton’s first lacrosse coach.

Which is funny, because Dayton didn’t really know what lacrosse was at the time.

Longwood University had one of the best field hockey programs in the country. It’s the reason Dayton ended up in Farmville. In the second semester of her freshman year, she picked up a lacrosse stick for the first time. Many of her teammates did the same.

They didn’t really have a choice. Longwood’s field hockey coach, Dee McDonough, also was the Lancers’ lacrosse coach. Longwood is a small school. Recruits weren’t exactly banging down the door to play lacrosse there. So McDonough did the next best thing and recruited her field hockey team.

That bit of ingenuity set in motion one legendary, if unexpected lacrosse career. national team, and now has a spot in the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame the first player from Longwood to join the pantheon of lacrosse greats.

It was a difficult destination to envision that first winter in Longwood’s gym. Dayton liked how fast lacrosse was, and how the game lent itself to creativity. But despite her coach’s insistence, she didn’t see the point of cradling. It just seemed like an unnecessary motion to slow everything down.

Dayton’s first lacrosse game came against William and Mary. The Indians were filled with experienced players from up north. They cradled, and yet they still played fast. Longwood lost 20 6.

“I remember thinking, ‘So that’s what our coach meant,'” Dayton said. “‘So that’s how you play the game.'”

Dayton did eventually learn to cradle and she eventually became one of the best in her generation to play lacrosse.pandora charms She led Team USA in scoring at the 1986 World Cup. In 1987 she won the Beth Allen Award as the national team’s most outstanding player.

The quick turn from lacrosse novice to national team star was helped by the fact that Longwood gave Dayton plenty of time to learn lacrosse’s intricacies. Farmville was little more than the school, a McDonald’s and a pizza shop. There wasn’t much else to do but play sports.

“It was a bit like ‘Cheers,'” Dayton said. “Everybody knew your name.”

It also helped that Jane Miller, a future Hall of Famer herself who would go onto become one of Dayton’s best friends and mentors, arrived to coach Longwood’s lacrosse team midway through Dayton’s collegiate career.

“She was a masterful coach,” Dayton said. “We learned so much under her.”

Miller, who would later coach Dayton on Team USA and coach alongside her at Virginia, and Josie Harper, who brought Dayton to Dartmouth as a field hockey coach, would become Dayton’s two greatest professional influences. team until her 30th birthday. She figured it was the right time to step away. The makeup of the team looked a lot like it does today. A lot of women from big schools like Maryland and Virginia. Dayton and Dee Cross, from Shippensburg, had an inside joke. They called themselves “the outliers.”

Sometimes statisticians don’t know how to attribute the presence of an outlier. Sometimes it’s just an error in the measurement. Not so with Dayton. From her parents who always supported her, to the high school coach who advised her to get the scholarship guide, to the college coach who put a stick in her hand, to Miller and Harper, Dayton can pinpoint the reasons for her surprising path to lacrosse stardom.

But could an outlier like Dayton even exist today?

“On one hand I sit there and go, ‘Wow, I wish I could have had more chances to play and get better, with fall ball and the tournaments all summer,'” Dayton said. “On the other hand, whew wee, am I glad I played when I did. It’s hard to know if you can compete with these kids. I certainly would have tried hard. No one would have out trained me.”

This year’s nine person class will be officially inducted in a ceremony on Saturday, September 10, at The Grand Lodge in Hunt Valley, Md.

The 2016 inductees are: Margie Anderson, Kim Basner, Joanne Connelly, Julie Dayton, Michele LeFevre Doyle, Glen Miles, Mike Morrill, Robert Shek, and John Tucker.