October 1, 2020

Patrick Catullo: Courting Victory

In tennis, timing is key.

UMW Athletic Director Patrick Catullo. Photo by Karen Pearlman.

UMW Athletic Director 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 – Athletic Director. 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 Athletic Director, 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!

Patrick Catullo: Courting Victory

In tennis, timing is key. 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 […]

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Returning Students Bring UMW’s Fall Semester to Life

UMW’s four-day move-in event looked both like and unlike years past, with campus arrivals wearing masks and following guidelines set forth in a comprehensive Return to Campus Plan. Photo by Suzanne Rossi.

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After three weeks of fully remote learning, University of Mary Washington students began moving into residence halls – and bringing the fall semester to life – last week.

Under the clouds of overcast skies and a global pandemic, UMW’s delayed four-day “move-in” played out much like – and unlike – it has in years past. More than 1,700 undergraduates and their family members, wearing face coverings and practicing social distancing, toted boxes and bins, posters and pillows, fridges and food, into their new homes on campus.

“This semester might look a little different, but it will be a great one if we all work together and MMDC!” UMW President Troy Paino tweeted Wednesday, on the eve of first-year students’ Thursday arrival. He was unable to step into residence hall rooms and help erect lofts, as he has done in the past, but he greeted cars on Double Drive and roamed the campus checking in on families.

Signs across campus serve as reminders to “MMDC”—monitor, mask, distance and clean – and socialize responsibly, limiting gatherings to no more than 10 people, as part of UMW’s comprehensive Return to Campus Plan.

In-person and hybrid classes will run through Nov. 20, with all courses returning to a remote format after Thanksgiving break as the semester winds down. Read more.

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Crystal Rawls: Online Organizer

Assistant Director of Student Activities and Engagement Crystal Rawls

Assistant Director of Student Activities and Engagement Crystal Rawls

Nothing ever stopped Crystal Rawls from going to school. With perfect attendance from kindergarten through 12th grade, she never missed a single day with her classmates. So she can understand why students miss being together on the University of Mary Washington campus.

Even while they’re social-distancing during the pandemic, though, UMW students haven’t missed out on opportunities to engage with their peers, thanks to the Office of Student Activities and Engagement (SAE), of which Rawls is assistant director.

“Our goal is to give students the chance to connect with each other, especially during these trying times,” Rawls said. A communications major, she was active on VCU’s campus as an undergrad, which led her to pursue a master’s degree in higher education at Old Dominion University. “We want to help them lay the groundwork so they can continue fostering these relationships once they return to campus.”

That’s easy to do in a normal year, but when COVID-19 cases began to climb last spring, the SAE team had to get creative, lining up activities on social media and Zoom. Throughout the summer, they kept incoming and current students entertained with bracket challenges and game nights, film screenings and cooking videos, playlists and podcast recommendations.

“We were able to interact with a large group of students, especially the Class of 2024,” said Rawls, who expects that even more will engage this fall after Club Carnival, which runs through Sept. 4. The popular Ball Circle event has been transformed into a week of virtual interest meetings, held by UMW’s more than 150 student clubs and organizations.

“Student activities can help you find your on-campus family,” said Rawls, who met one of her closest friends through a college club. “They can help you make lifelong friendships and create a lasting bond with your school.”

 

Q: What activities were you involved in while in college?
A: I served as a resident assistant and undergraduate teaching assistant, and I was a member of VCU ASPiRE, a living and learning community that encourages community engagement.

Q: What does your job at UMW entail?
A: I help UMW’s student clubs and organizations plan campus activities. I’m also the advisor to the Campus Programming Board (CPB) and Class Council, as well as STEP@UMW, Women of Color and Comb As You Are, which promotes natural hair and beauty. I also coordinate the Student Leadership Committee and serve as the Title IX Deputy for Students.

Q: What other virtual activities are planned for the fall?
A: CPB is having a caricature speed drawing event, and we’re also planning socially distanced scavenger hunts and online movie screenings. Bingo is returning, with surprise campus celebrity hosts and a special guest, Morgan McMichaels from RuPaul’s Drag Race.

Q: Are there any new clubs this semester?
A: Aubade Literary and Art Magazine is returning after a hiatus, and new organizations include the Culinary Club, Day on Democracy and the Fourth Wall Studio Club, focusing on filmmaking.

Q: What do you do when you’re not working?
A: Catch up on Netflix – The Umbrella Academy is quite good – and listen to podcasts.

Q: What’s your motto?
A: There is only one of you in the world, so be the best you that you can be.