Meant to Be

A knee injury derailed her Navy aspirations, but Loren Day has found the perfect fit at Campbell

By Billy Liggett | Photo by Bennett Scarborough

Campbell University was never meant to be a long-term stop for Loren Day.

A star athlete from southern Maryland — the hotbed of high school lacrosse — Day was originally recruited to play for the Naval Academy’s nationally ranked program before a serious knee injury put her collegiate future in doubt. She “settled” for Campbell, a new program willing to take a risk on a talent with a cracked femur.

What Day didn’t expect to find in Buies Creek, North Carolina, was a home. Now three years since her decision to head south, the junior is Campbell’s all-time leading scorer. She set the school record for single-season goals with her 39th goal in March (she had 44 through April 16 with at least four games left to play in the season).

More important than the records, she says, has been the experience of helping start a program from the ground up. Campbell welcomed Division I lacrosse in 2013 and finished with a respectable 6-7 record that first season.

“When I leave here, this will be my legacy,” says Day. “I was part of a team of 12 girls that first year, and we knew we had to set the tone for what the program would become. We knew we had to work hard for the community, the school and other teams to know who we are and know we’re here to stay. It’s been a tough process [the team has struggled this season, going 3-11 through mid-April], but we knew this wouldn’t happen overnight. It takes time to lay the foundation, to build a program that’s going to last.”

Campbell has been the perfect fit for Day off the field as well. Around the time of her arrival, the College of Arts & Sciences announced that its homeland security concentration would become a major, and Day immediately jumped on board. One of the reasons she wanted to join the Naval Academy was her desire to serve her country and pursue a career in law enforcement. Led by director David Gray — a retired U.S. Air Force officer and former CIA foreign service officer known globally for his expertise in U.S. and international security and strategic studies — Campbell’s homeland security program is providing Day an opportunity to seek her dream career with a three-letter government agency.

“I would love work in intelligence, investigations, counter-terrorism, NARCO trafficking, firearms smuggling … I’m very interested in all of it,” Day says. “Any agency that would allow me to reach those aspirations would be the best fit for me.”

She calls her career dreams a “calling,” something she’s always wanted to do. Coming to a university with a new, unique program offering her the tools to achieve that dream has been an unexpected surprise.

“The type of work we’re doing in our classes — dealing with real-world problems and case study scenarios — all of it embodies what a perfect homeland security program should be,” Day says. “We’re using tools the agencies are using. When I start sending resumes, I can say I’m already using the programs they’re using on a daily basis.”

More proof that Campbell was meant to be for Day — the former teammate and now assistant coach whose single-season scoring record she topped this season grew up in the same town and played high school lacrosse with Day. Taelar Errington scored 36 goals as a senior in 2014 and joined the staff with head coach Dawn Easley this season.

“I view Taelar as a coach, a player and a friend,” Day says. “We have a mutual respect for each other, and we’ve always pushed each other at every level. As for breaking her record, there’s been no hard feelings.”

Lacrosse is in Day’s blood. She picked up her first stick in the second grade and had to play in boys leagues because the girls leagues didn’t start that young. Her older brother by 10 years, Chad Day, was an All-American at Lynchburg College, and her sister Madison Day plays for Penn State.

Campbell’s program isn’t as high profile yet, but Day has no regrets about her decision to come to North Carolina.

“It’s a home away from home,” she says. “There’s something about the people here — it’s just a different level of friendliness. The camaraderie and experiences I’ve had on the academic side are things I’ll take with me for the rest of my life.”