McGuffey’s Ed Dalton, Avonworth’s Andrea Patton become WPIAL’s 1st father/daughter athletic director duo
Thursday, August 6, 2020 | 1:15 PM
Andrea Patton remembers growing up in her father’s shadow.
Where Ed Dalton was, Andrea normally followed. Whether it was at a high school football game, a WPIAL playoff basketball game, or any different type of activity that involved his job as an athletic director, coach or educator.
“I was at every game of his; he took me to WPIAL playoff basketball games, he was having me handing out pamphlets and working his camps,” Patton said. “I mean when you saw my dad you probably saw me.”
Because of her time spent around her dad and playing sports at Trinity High School and later at Pitt-Johnstown, Patton always thought she might be destined to end up alongside her father somewhere down the line.
Although it happened in a non-linear way, Patton achieved that dream earlier this week when she was hired as the new athletic director at Avonworth High School. Patton and Dalton — the current athletic director and football coach at McGuffey — are now the only father and daughter duo to hold athletic director positions in the WPIAL.
“That’s pretty impressive huh?” Dalton said. “Both my daughters have always loved athletics; I’ve been blessed with that but I guess they didn’t really have a lot of choice. Their mother was a really good athlete and coach and I’ve been in sports the whole time. But Andrea was one further in that I think from the beginning she wanted to be an educator. Then, when she started that path, she decided that she wanted to be an athletic director.”
Throughout college, Patton had her eyes set on taking a traditional path like her father. She was planning on getting into secondary education and then becoming a basketball coach. But, as she took on a coaching position at Pitt-Johnstown after her illustrious basketball career, Patton started to gain a greater interest in exploring administration at the collegiate level.
That journey took her to the University of Washington, where she earned her master’s degree in Intercollegiate Athletic Leadership. Then, she spent time at both Florida Atlantic and Tennessee Chattanooga working in the Academic Services for Student-Athletes department. In 2014, she took a position at Utah State where she worked in the same department and also completed a second master’s degree in social work.
Then, this past summer, as she was working on her PhD at West Virginia, the thought of becoming a high school athletic director started to sneak back into her brain after having a conversation with WPIAL executive director Amy Scheuneman.
“She’s been an unbelievable mentor and resource and I look up to her a lot, and she was the one who said, ‘You have to pick a path at this time, you have to think about it. Do you want to be in higher ed or do you want to be in high school?’” Patton said. “I had this gut reaction where I wanted to be in high school. So, it was a pretty intentional move over this summer that I wanted to think about how do I get into high school athletics.”
Over the past few months, Patton started looking for the perfect opportunity and found it in Avonworth. She said she had her family over earlier this week to watch the Avonworth school board meeting virtually. Then, after hearing the announcement, she said she got to share a pretty special father-daughter moment with her dad.
“That was really special and something I’m not going to forget anytime soon,” Patton said.
Dalton, who’s been an athletic director for 20 years and a coach for 40, was happy for his daughter and said she’ll have no problem fitting into her new role.
“I was really excited for her and very confident in her,” Patton said. “It was what she wanted and where she wanted and I think that has a lot to do with it. She is very eager; her enthusiasm is going to be one of her best qualities.”
As for getting started with her new career, Patton might have a challenge ahead of her. She takes over the Avonworth program in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, which canceled spring sports earlier this year and is threatening to do the same with fall sports after Pa. Gov. Tom Wolf’s recommendation to hold off high school sports until the new year.
With everything going on, Patton is hoping she can bring a sense of stability to the program through her first few months in the new position. But, she’s also excited to try and have an impact on the student-athletes just like her father has.
“He’s had players that have written letters to him and have named their kids after him,” Patton said. “So to look back and see the impact that he’s had on kids, that type of stuff is what you see behind the scenes. That’s the dad and the coach that I know and that’s the impact that he’s had and the legacy that he’ll leave and that’s why excites me. I hope that I can have that type of impact and leave that type of legacy too.”
Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .
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