UMF athletic director Julie Davis, who saw the Beavers through COVID-19, retires after long, successful career. University of Maine at Farmington photo

There were a handful of reasons why Julie Davis decided to retire after a long and rewarding career as the athletic director at the University of Maine at Farmington.

“It just felt like the stars were aligning to tell me, ‘It is time for me, my health and family and for others … to take the baton, to keep momentum moving forward with the energy it requires,’” she said. “Personally, I wish to do this while I feel healthy enough to do some more active travel with my spouse and give her and us the time we deserve. 

“I’ve been very fortunate to have a spouse who has been 100 percent supportive of a very consuming position, all of our staff, student-athletes and programs. Meanwhile, the leadership and staff at UMF have also been most supportive and they are poised for good things … new challenges and opportunities. I have every confidence in the foundation, values and mission in place.”

Since 2000, Davis has witnessed 19 conference championships in the North Atlantic Conference and more in the Maine Athletic Conference/Sunrise and the Reynolds division for Alpine skiing.

There is no question one of her greatest challenges in a successful career was overseeing UMF’s athletic programs when the COVID-19 pandemic struck.

“Delivering bad or ambiguous news for extended periods is pretty taxing,” she explained. “Everyone just wanted to do the right thing, but we all brought different experiences and perspectives to the table. We managed it with a lot of communication, patience and creativity.

“We relied very heavily on our sports medicine staff, and the incident command, system risk management and our conferences. The silver lining as an administrator was interacting and consulting with ADs in other conferences across the state and the system.

“It was fatiguing and stressful in a different, sustained way than normal for sure, but we were pretty fortunate with what we were able to do and accomplish in spite of it. Only a handful of our student-athletes opted out or stayed remote. The vast majority were on campus making the most of all they could, together when possible.”

Besides looking forward to a lot of R and R, Davis hasn’t ruled out working in a limited capacity. 

“We really enjoy travel, and having seen most of the U.S., the top of our bucket list destinations are in the southern hemisphere,” she said. “The time for us to go would be winter here (winter sport seasons). That just wasn’t compatible.

“Beyond that, I am open to meaningful work/service that makes a positive impact. Working with a foundation, or on a board, perhaps some consulting work is possible. I expect to take some classes of interest too, but I’ll also be cautious not to over-commit.”

Cyndi Pratt, assistant athletics director and head field hockey coach, and associate athletics director and women’s basketball coach Jamie Beaudoin praised Davis’s leadership and dedication to UMF athletics and education.

“Julie is a champion and an advocate on our campus for the holistic development of all of our students,” Beaudoin said. “She is committed to an environment of equity, inclusion and diversity. We have been fortunate to have her for all of these years, and I am lucky to have had her as a mentor, a teammate and a friend.”

Pratt added: “Every decision Julie made was geared toward enriching the student athlete experience during their time at UMF. She has been a dedicated advocate for the entire campus and I wish her all the best.”

Davis said it was co-workers, relationships forged across the country and UMF’s devotion to education and athletics that led to her long tenure at the school.

“It is always the people … the relationships, seeing individuals — both staff and students — grow, achieve, benefit from the opportunities,” she said. “Really, there is so much I enjoyed, or I would not have stuck with it for so long.

“Of course I enjoy championship performances and when teams, individuals and staff achieve goals and earn recognition. Sometimes it was as simple as a student or staff member stopping by the office to ask for some advice, or share something personal or an idea.

“Being the college AD gave me access to that, and I’m so appreciative of the wonderful people I’ve met and sometimes collaborated with along the way.”

But stepping down after more than 20 years at UMF wasn’t an easy decision.

“I believe in the mission, and I felt I was making a positive impact,” she said. “I was especially blessed with staff who just drew out a loyalty in me that would make them hard to leave at so many points. We were able to keep growing and making progress in the good and most challenging times.

“Meanwhile, early in my tenure, we garnered two major NCAA grants and were able use them to support some transformative changes with staffing and student athlete education and development. Teamwork across campus, with other directors in drafting and implementing one of those grants, was a fun and fruitful learning experience that still pays dividends years later.

“I just appreciate the opportunity and everyone’s support and collaboration along the way — media included. It has been a rewarding journey and I look forward to new adventures. Go Beavers!”

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