By Tom Nader
Publisher and Editor
“Getting to Know” is an ongoing series that was created to spotlight the coaches and administrators that are guiding today’s Portage County student-athletes to be tomorrow’s leaders.
Today, we get to know Southeast girls cross country coach Julia Dillon, who is in her seventh year leading the program.
A: Atwater, Ohio.
Q: High school?
A: Waterloo High School. Class of 2002.
A: University of Akron. Graduated in 2007. Degree in Secondary Education.
Q: Current occupation?
A: Southeast High School ELA teacher.
Q: What inspired you to be a coach?
A: Mrs. Dunn was planning to retire from XC, and she asked me to step in for her. I took running in my adult years, and I have such a love for the sport that it was an easy transition. Also, sports are a huge part of my family. My husband was an amazing athlete and my children have followed that. Now, I get the privilege to coach my oldest son in XC.
Q: What makes being a coach at Southeast special to you?
A: I have been in this district for 16 years, and I love the students that come through our school. It is also my husband’s alma mater and where my children go to school. We are deeply rooted in Southeast.
Q: Who has been your biggest influence?
A: When I was in middle school, my softball coach really made an impact on my life. Coach Jarvis was always pushing me to do better and to the next level. We did not always agree, but he did want me to achieve to my highest ability.
Q: Funny story nobody would believe from your coaching career?
A: During last season, Dylan Evans, who was a freshman, decided to hide and scare some of the other runners as they ran past. He found a hiding place where everyone had to run past. As Julia Wheeler, also a freshman, came running by, he came running out yelling and swinging a stick. Julia squealed and took off even faster. It was rather entertaining to watch.
Q: Favorite TV show?
A: Grey’s Anatomy.
Q: Favorite movie?
A: The Notebook.
Q: Favorite musical artist?
A: Morgan Wallen.
Q: Favorite food?
Q: Best vacation?
Q: Shoutout to former teammates?
A: Stacey McConnell, Stephanie Jarvis, Kim Jacobson, Kelly Markham.
Q: Favorite quote?
A: Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you react to it.” — Charles R. Swindoll
Q: Describe your coaching philosophy?
A: I believe in differentiating between each runner. Running philosophies are great, but are only a guideline to use. You have to find what works for each individual. I also believe in building relationships with my runners so the they understand that even when I am hard on them (and I am), that I do care about them. We want to maximize each athlete.
Q: Favorite restaurant?
A: I enjoy mom and pop restaurants.
Q: Favorite teacher from high school?
A: Mrs. Berry, my high school ELA teacher and Mr. Harcar, my band director.
Q: Advice you would give your younger self?
A: Be confident and don’t let others affect your outcome.
Q: Favorite coach from your playing days?
A: My dad.
Q: Coaching resume?
A: Southeast High School girls cross country coach (2016-present).
Q: Favorite sports team?
A: Golden State Warriors and New York Yankees.
Q: Favorite athlete then?
A: Derek Jeter.
Q: Favorite athlete now?
A: Stephen Curry.
Q: First job as a teenager?
A: I worked at the movie theater in Kent.
Q: Family member that always gives you the best advice?
A: My husband.
Q: Favorite candy?
Q: First car?
A: Dodge Intrepid.
Q: Best friends?
A: My sister Bettina Hamidovic, my husband Nick Dillon, Southeast coaches Monica Kiskadden and Kelli Simmons.
Q: Most memorable moment as a coach?
A: Coaching last year’s team to regionals. I have always taken individuals, but never the whole team. That was fantastic.