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What It's All About

When Katie Fay enters the Princeton Day School Athletic Center, she’s immediately greeted by colleagues and students, each eager to say a quick hello. Once she makes it to a table in the Linville Lobby, she drops her bag, turns and strides towards the fieldhouse where the girls’ varsity volleyball team is practicing. “I’ll be right back,” she calls. “I just want to grab a quick picture. They look great today!”

Fay’s energy and enthusiasm are infectious, and her deep belief in the mission and philosophy of Panther Athletics, along with her unwavering support of her athletes and coaches is unmatched.

“Katie knows every player, their strengths and how to both build them up and gently push them. She cares about accountability and the culture she shapes,” said Scott Bertoli, associate director of athletics and director of middle school athletics.

Fay’s career at PDS began in 2009 as the associate director of the Annual Fund. She became director of annual giving in 2010 and, in 2013, took on the role of director of capital giving for the Thrive! Campaign. In the fall of 2020, Fay was named the director of athletics and physical education.

“I loved working in the Advancement Office,” said Fay. “At the same time, I knew I wanted to find my way back to athletics. I’m grateful that PDS is so supportive of faculty and staff who want to grow into other roles on campus.”

“Katie’s rigorous attention to detail — together with her discipline, optimism and abiding love of competition — has allowed our school’s athletic and physical education programs to flourish. She opened and ran a new athletic center in the midst of a pandemic, expanded varsity competition to include the finest independent and public school competition and continues to watch proudly as our athletes win team and individual honors. I can’t wait to see what she has in store for our program in the coming years,” said Head of School Paul Stellato.

An exceptional athlete in her own right, Fay’s list of accolades is lengthy. A star backstroker at Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts, she was named a High School First Team All-American swimmer. She went on to become a four-year Division I athlete, first earning a second-team All-Ivy League recognition at Brown University before transferring to Duke where she was named an All-ACC finalist three years in a row.

“I know what it was like to be a student-athlete, and I know how vital my coaches were, not only to my development in the pool, but across the board in academics and in life. I want to have that same impact on the students here at PDS,” she shared.

She does. Not only did Fay guide PDS athletics through two years of Covid uncertainty, she’s worked hard to advance the program state-wide.

“Paul [Stellato] has been incredibly supportive in every way,” said Fay of the head of school. “Especially through Covid. He felt strongly that we would find a way to keep the athletic program in person for our students. Because of him, we did.”

At the same time, Fay was continuing the work started years prior to have PDS join the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA). Membership in the association means a longer season, more visibility and accolades for our student-athletes and more chances for them to hone their skills. It also allowed the boys’ hockey program to accept an invitation to join the Gordon Conference, an elite league of the strongest hockey programs in the state.

“We had an incredible inaugural year as members of the NJSIAA — we made it to three state championship games and took home our first NJSIAA State Championship last spring with the girls’ lacrosse program. I’m proud of those achievements and of the accomplishments of so many teams and individuals last year,” Fay said. “I am also grateful for all the hard work that others did before me to make the membership possible.”

This year, one of Fay’s goals is to continue building school spirit — not just in athletics, but campus-wide.

“I tell the players that if you want a huge student cheering section, you have to be a huge cheering section. That means going to gallery openings, garden clean-ups and plays and musicals. That’s how our school pride will explode and how we’ll expand our extraordinary culture of community,” Fay said.

“That’s what it’s all about.”

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