Emilee Dunton ’14, ’15 M.A.T. grew up tagging along with her father while he coached Liberty University’s men’s basketball team, leading them to a Big South championship and NCAA berth. The countless hours watching—and playing basketball—with her dad paid off.
Eventually, Dunton left her job as water girl behind to make her own name for herself on the basketball court. It was no surprise to hear her talk growing up about being a coach herself one day. Yet, while taking education courses at Randolph College, she began envisioning a different future.
“I started to value teaching as a way to help people grow,” Dunton said. “I never had seen much appeal to teaching, but I realized the impact you can have on someone as a teacher.”
These days, she is merging both of her passions by serving as a special education teacher and head women’s basketball coach at Liberty High School, in Bedford County, Virginia.
“In both positions she shows dedication and leadership,” said Kathy Dills, principal. “As a coach, she has fostered a dimension of dedication and determination for the girls. She has given strong motivation to these ladies that will be with them for their lives long after Liberty High School’s graduation.”
The Liberty team earned a successful 18–5 record and a conference finals appearance this year under Dunton’s leadership. As an added plus, she is once again sharing the court with her father. Dunton’s dad volunteered as an assistant coach for her last year and is now serving as the men’s basketball coach at her Bedford County school.
She often talks about the lessons she learned on the court and in the classroom with her students. In addition to fostering her intellectual curiosity and time–management skills, her professors encouraged Dunton to constantly set and accomplish goals.
“At Randolph, my professors were able to show me and bring out confidence in myself that I hadn’t seen before,” Dunton said. “Now I’m able to help my players and students see that they have positive qualities and help them see what goals they want to achieve in life at a younger age.”
The positive influence she’s been able to have on her students has made her rethink her ultimate, lifelong goal to become a college basketball coach. She’s even considering pursuing her doctorate and becoming a school administrator.
“Randolph College really did change my life in a sense of valuing education,” she said. “I realized that education is the piece that’s going to drive you far after your athletic career is over. That stemmed from going to a liberal arts college and having professors who truly care about you, and being immersed in a culture where you’re constantly learning and being exposed to different views, taking them in, but also learning to be respectful of others and the way they think.”