October 26, 2020

Patrick Catullo: Courting Victory

In tennis, timing is key.

UMW Athletic Director Patrick Catullo. Photo by Karen Pearlman.

UMW Director of Athletics Patrick Catullo. Photo by Karen Pearlman.

Patrick Catullo started his Mary Washington athletics journey, a psychology major on the men’s tennis team, just as the ’90s edged onto the court. Later, Catullo returned to his alma mater to coach women’s tennis, advancing the team to one conference championship after another.

A 16-year Mary Washington career led to the ledge of the top spot in college sports – Director of Athletics. He’d held the interim post for more than a year when he landed the job after a nationwide search. That was February. And we all know what happened in March.

“Rumor has it these are truly ‘unprecedented times!’ ” Catullo said. “The focus of our department is on maintaining a high-quality student-athlete experience.”

With the pandemic handing UMW athletics a time-out through winter, he said, “committed, resourceful” coaches and staff are building Eagle momentum for spring through corporate sponsorships, social media campaigns and a project highlighting past and present student-athletes.

“It’s truly been awesome to see the ‘come togetherness’ of this group,” Catullo said.

And then there’s the practicing – masked and monitored, of course – with modified strength and conditioning starting this month. “Goolrick and Anderson are buzzing with (socially distanced) activity,” said Catullo, who served previously as UMW’s assistant director of athletics and director of compliance.

As Director of Athletics, he’s poised to get student-athletes back in the swing when competition picks up. In tennis – and in all of UMW’s 20-plus varsity sports – timing is key.

Q: How did your passion for sports begin?
A: I was actively involved in sports growing up, and my parents introduced me to tennis at a young age. After college, I continued to learn about the game from the coaching side, and began my head coaching career at the community college level.

Q: What do you miss most about coaching?
A: Daily interaction with student-athletes. But I feel I have far greater impact and reach in my current role.

Q: What’s your favorite sport?
A: I have the great pleasure of having 25 favorite sports! Any opportunity to see our Eagles compete, while maintaining a rigorous academic schedule and engaging in the campus community, is a true “win.”

Q: What’s the current mood of players and coaches?
A: Eager! Right now, everyone is working to mitigate risk for our student-athletes, staff and coaches, and return to practice in a safe, healthy way. I have no doubt we’ll be back to cheering on our Eagles soon.

Q: What does it mean to be a Division III athlete?
A: For our student-athletes, it truly means being students first, playing for the love of the game and finding a sense of balance in their college careers. We compete at a very high level, with several of our sports earning NCAA Tournament berths and National Ranking recognition.

Q: Who do you root for, besides the UMW Eagles?
A: I support a variety of sports, from football to ice hockey to tennis, and I’m a big fan of the Capitals and Nationals.

Q: How do you spend your free time?
A: I enjoy spending time with my sons, Ryan and Chase, and of course hitting a few tennis balls whenever I can!