On the Fast Track with Alumna Lisa Daley

The former track star balances life as a New York City public interest lawyer and record-breaking athlete.

At the age of 41, Lisa Daley ’93, a former Jasper track superstar and history major, is still winning big on the track field. This summer, she walked away with five gold medals at the World Masters Athletics Championships, and also set a new American Masters record of 63.95 seconds in the 400-meter hurdles — breaking her existing record of 64.40 seconds.

When Daley, a public interest lawyer for District Council 37, New York City’s largest public employee union, is not in court or the office, she travels to Columbia University’s Baker Field three times a week to train with the Central Park Track Club. She is currently preparing for the 2012 World Masters Athletics Championships Indoor in Finland.
Commitment and passion are two of the traits that she portrays in the courtroom and on the track. Sometimes beginning her day as early as 5 a.m. to get to the gym for her biweekly weight lifting session, she then heads to lower Manhattan to represent city employees in family court. On the days she trains, Daley may not even walk in the door of her White Plains home until 10 p.m.
“Lisa has been an outstanding track and field athlete at the world veteran level for many years, and it has been a pleasure for me to advise and work with her at this stage of her career,” says Joe Ryan ’81, assistant women’s track coach at Manhattan College. “She was my first female competitive 400-meter runner that I had recruited to Manhattan, and she helped to set the standard for future athletes.”
Lisa plans out everything she does, marks her progress, re-evaluates her progress and adjusts accordingly. She’s a great example of what pursuing your goals leads to.
Daley, a native Jamaican, moved to New York City at the age of 19 and began her college and track career at Bronx Community College. In 1991, she transferred to Manhattan College on the recommendation of Lesleigh Hogg ’70, her track coach at Bronx Community College, and competed in the 200-meter, 300-meter and 400-meter dashes, and the 4x100-, 4x200- and 4x400-meter relays at Manhattan College. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in history in 1993 and went on to attend Touro Law School.
“As a college athlete, I learned how to balance my time, and that was something I learned at Manhattan College,” Daley says. “I knew I needed to balance my grades and manage my time in order to do both and do well at both.”
Once Daley completed the bar exam, she jumped back into an aggressive and competitive training schedule. Daley has participated in North America and Europe, and also in the Penn Relays, Empire State Games, Colgate Games, and for the past year, has picked up hurdles as part of her training regimen.
“Lisa plans out everything she does, marks her progress, re-evaluates her progress and adjusts accordingly. She’s a great example of what pursuing your goals leads to,” says Aliann Pompey ’99, a friend of Daley’s and fellow runner. “Before the beginning of last season, Lisa told me she wanted to break the 400-meter hurdles record. She had a program, she had the coach, and she had the drive. She never wavered from that plan, she was just that focused. About a month after we spoke, I knew she’d break it. It was just a matter of by how much.”

After breaking her own 400-meter  hurdles record this summer and earning gold medals in the 200 and 400, 400 hurdles, and 4x100 and 4x400 relays, Daley explains that it is still possible to compete in the sport you love and maintain a full-time professional position.

“My training right now might not be as long as the practices I had in college, but you maximize that hour and a half as well with whatever the goals are that you set,” she says. “It is definitely something that I encourage, too, because I think it is having some type of balance in my life.”
Ryan is a witness to Daley’s dedication in achieving her goals, as he continued to coach her until 2010.
“The performances that she has put up over the years as a veteran would still be competitive at the collegiate level, and I do believe that is due to her high level of motivation and dedication as she has gotten older,” Ryan adds. “It is truly inspiring, and I do hold her up as a great example to our younger athletes at Manhattan College.”


Lisa Daley '93 (bib #2950), in the final of the 400-meter dash, wins the event at the World Masters Athletics Championship in Sacramento this past July.​  
Photo credit: Ken Stone