Beyond the Lines is a (bi)weekly profile story on a coach or athlete that goes beyond the fields and courts.
In 2019, Marist Athletics filled two important positions: women’s volleyball head coach and coordinator of club sports, intramurals, and camps. Sean Byron was hired for the former and Julie Byron was brought in for the latter.
They’ve been married for 23 years and have worked in many parts of the country before coming to Poughkeepsie as a package deal.
Sean Byron grew up in Buffalo, NY as an only child. His mother ran choirs and musicals while his father was a basketball and football coach in addition to working as high school athletic director. Sean played basketball and volleyball through middle and high school, starting the latter sport in seventh grade.
He went on to play volleyball all four years of his time at Springfield College in Massachusetts, a Division III school, and graduated in 1993 with a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education. He earned his Master of Education from the same school in 1998 while also serving as graduate assistant of the men’s volleyball team. He even met his future wife in his final year there.
Julie Byron grew up in the Catskills with her younger brother Neil, who she still is very close with.
“When I was growing up, I was a softball pitcher and he was always my catcher,” Julie said. “I always had him out there, making him chase balls or pegging them with him, certainly very, very close. Growing up I was always kicking [or] throwing a ball, and he was on the other end, lots of games of horse, lots of fights along the way.”
Julie was a three-sport athlete in high school, playing basketball, softball, and soccer. She attended Hartwick College and played softball her first two years while playing basketball all four years. She was a Division III All-American in the latter before graduating with a degree in history.
She then took a year off to coach basketball at Hobart and William Smith College before attending graduate school at Springfield College, where she served as a graduate assistant with the women’s basketball team.
The two coached simultaneously for different teams at Springfield and even had their offices next to each other until Sean left in 1998 to become the East Stroudsburg men’s and women’s volleyball head coach. Meanwhile, Julie had another year remaining as a graduate assistant, so they gave a long-distance relationship a go.
After Julie graduated in 1999, she made the decision to take the administrative route because of how challenging it would have been for the two to raise a family if both coached.
In 2000, Sean and Julie got married and moved into a new home in Westfield, NJ. Sean switched to Rutgers University in Newark to become the men’s and women’s volleyball head coach while Julie started her new job with the MAAC.
“I got a job in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference office where I worked for eight years, basically running events is what I did,” Julie said. “Anywhere from conference championships, I coordinated a lot of our events that we had in the early 2000s at Disney, ran the 2002 NCAA wrestling national championship along with some basketball and hockey events as well.”
After eight years in the Garden State, they moved again as Ohio State University hired Sean to become the men’s volleyball assistant coach, where they lived from 2007 to 2015.
For a year, Sean served as an assistant coach at West Virginia University and then coached at the University of Michigan in the same role from 2016 to 2019.
Since April 2019, Sean has been the women’s volleyball head coach at Marist while Julie was promoted to assistant athletic director for intramural sports/club sports/camps in 2021.
They haven’t been alone on this journey to Poughkeepsie as the Byrons have two daughters. The oldest is Grace, a sophomore at American University, and Calleigh, a sophomore in high school.
Byron family from left to right: Grace, Julie, Sean, and Calleigh
“[Grace] is just really sweet and caring and innately intelligent,” Sean said. “She’s studying Eastern European politics and sent me some paper on the Russian ecological system and in the first paragraph I had to look up three of the words.
“[Calleigh] is very athletic and outgoing. They both do well in school, but I think Grace is probably more reserved, and her dream evening would be to sit and study for three hours. The dream evening of the younger one is to have three hours of the house packed with friends and blast music and everybody’s playing games and singing.”
Playing games is something the Byron family loves doing when spending time together. In their backyard, they have ax-throwing, spikeball, cornhole, a soccer net and a volleyball net in their pool. Inside the house, they have a foosball table in their basement.
Even when they’re driving together, they’ll play guess the song and artist. Nowadays, Calleigh runs the aux when she’s being driven anywhere and typically knows the words to every song she plays.
The Byron family also implemented a system 10 years ago to decide what they have for Christmas dinner because not every person likes the same foods.
“One [daughter] only likes red meat, one hates it. We were trying to think for our Christmas dinner, were we going to do ham, a turkey? It got to the point where we’re like, we’re just going to draw out of a hat,” Sean said. “Everyone put what they wanted. We did an appetizer, two sides, a main dish, and a dessert.”
Above all, their favorite memories together are their family vacations, including trips to Southern California, Paris, and London.
The Byrons in London recreating The Beatles’ Abbey Road album cover
The relationship they have with their own family is the kind they hope spills over to what they do in their roles at Marist.
“I think that for people who go into athletics, whatever that role is, whether you’re a coach or an administrator, you go into it for the people, you go into it for the relationships,” Julie said. “I deal with hundreds of students from club sport participants to intramurals, so those relationships are fun and different. Every day is a different story.”
For Julie, it’s important for her to assist students with any concerns they may have. Whether it’s an ill-fitting jersey or the lights at Tenney Stadium not turning on, she is always attentive and cares deeply about the well-being of the students.
Sean, according to Julie, is a teacher who educates players on far more than just simply playing the game of volleyball. He’s also one of the most committed people in what he does, whether it’s running practices, scouting players, or preparing for an opponent.
When they’re not coaching, dealing with students, or driving from one place to the other, they are sure to take some time for themselves. Julie loves reading and now listens to audiobooks more often because they’re more efficient, while Sean enjoys riding his Peloton bike every morning.
They’ve been a dynamic duo for 23 years, moving several times, taking on different jobs, raising two children together, and creating many memories together.
Since they were hired in 2019, their focus has been, and continues to be, ensuring student-athletes have the best possible experience here at Marist College, taking care of not only their children but also the Red Fox family.
Edited by Jonathan Kinane and Luke Sassa
Photos from Sean and Julie Byron