A Father in Time To Purdue volleyball's Caitlyn Newton, Donald Scott isn't a stepfather. He's Dad.

Father’s Day is the day we celebrate the men we love the most in our lives. Our fathers made us feel safe, supported us every step of the way, held us and told us everything was going to be okay. They love us unconditionally.

Many of us are born with a father we will have for a lifetime. Some spend their entire lives without a father figure. For others, Father’s Day holds special meaning because a person stepped into your life and became your father, and you grew together and learned to love one another.

Pew Research Analysis of survey and census data estimates that fewer than half of American children live in a “traditional” family. That is one with a mother and father on their first marriage.

Purdue volleyball sophomore-to-be Caitlyn Newton, her mother, Anna, and her five siblings – Adam, Ryan, Gregory, Ava and Caroline – are among the majority that don’t take for granted celebrating Father’s Day.

Caitlyn was born in Elot, Israel, as her mother and her biological father pursued his professional basketball career. Together they traveled the world, making stops in Brazil, Canada and Italy before Anna and her husband split and she took Catilyn and Gregory home to Charlotte, North Carolina, to live with her parents and finish her degree at Duke University.

A year later, Anna was the maid of honor in a wedding that served as the genesis for the family they share today. The bride had been playing matchmaker from the start. Her hopes of bringing two single parents, with four children between them, together was as planned as the catering, flower arrangements and dance music. The bride’s cousin, Donald Scott had two children, Adam and Ryan, and had been single for five years. Donald was on board from the get-go. It was Anna who would take some convincing.

The two were assigned the same table at the rehearsal dinner. Donald spotted Anna juggling a 5-year-old Gregory and 3-year-old Caitlyn.

“Well that certainly looks familiar,” Donald quipped, hoping Anna would give him at least a smile.

He then offered to take their four kids on a walk in order to give her a breather. The move intrigued Anna, who took notice that Donald could be special.

Anna followed Donald’s boldness with own plot at the reception. As the two got to know each other over the course of the weekend, Donald asked her to save him a dance. When it came time for their big moment, Anna sent him a clear message by saying he could dance with Caitlyn.

“He didn’t even skip a beat,” Anna said. “He’s so family oriented, he didn’t even bat an eye doing it. It was cute. It was really, really cute.”

“I don’t know that I was fazed by it at all. I was used to being around little ones at that point so it was sort of a comfort zone,” Donald said. “To this day, I can remember the shy smile Caitlyn gave me the first time I met her and she still has that. She still does it on occasion and it’s one of my favorite things to see her do.”

From that day on, Donald was certain that Anna and he were meant to be and he wasn’t going to let the 10-hour drive between Terre Haute and Charlotte be a barrier.

The Newtons and Scotts joined as one family in 2003, when Donald and Anna married.

“I always told her early on that we were a good fit. We spent a lot of time talking on the phone. I would fly down there once a month. We took a couple trips down to Disney World in Florida and a couple different places with and without kids.”

Two years of dating was capped by an engagement in May 2003 and the pair married three months later.

The new family’s move to Terre Haute, where Donald had a leadership position with an insurance company, dealt a rocky start as the discourse changed abruptly, when a few hours into the drive, Caitlyn and Gregory began crying, demanding to go back to Charlotte.

While Donald made an effort to comfort the kids and make the trip fun, he made one grave mistake with Caitlyn.

“I remember when we arrived, my dad picked me up and held me upside down,” Caitlyn said. “I freaked out and I hated him for a while.”

“A lot of kids love that and think it’s great,” Donald laughed as he reflected on perhaps his biggest mistake in their relationship. “Not Caitlyn! She hadn’t even gotten upside down and I saw the look on her face and I knew that was not the right move with her.”

Over time Donald and Anna managed to overcome the hurdles associated with bringing grown children into new relationships. Whether it was trips to amusement parks or zoos, the two made an effort to provide a fun childhood for the four most important people in their lives. As their family grew, the couple shared the importance of family by making holidays, birthdays and other family occasions a critical focus.

“The kids were 4, 6, 6 and 7 when we brought them together,” Donald said. “To blend two families together, the work involved is exponentially harder. We’ve always tried to help each other, be supportive of each other and it took a year or so to make sure we understood everybody’s role. But it was the best thing we ever did.”

Donald, with Adam and Ryan, and Anna, with Gregory and Caitlyn, have two children together -- Ava and Caroline.

As Caitlyn grew up, she found success playing sports. When travel with volleyball became more and more difficult for Anna to attend, it opened the door for Caitlyn’s mother to orchestrate an experience that proved to be a significant milestone for dad and daughter.

“I kind of had to guide her and push her a little bit, and even him, too,” Anna said. “He was a little apprehensive because it was a big deal, but I was also confident that it would be a positive experience for both of them and it really paid off.”

“That was kind of the turning point,” Caitlyn remembered.

Though they were both apprehensive, Donald knew the way to the 12-year old’s heart: shopping, ice cream, and conversation. From that moment forward, Donald was the preferred parent for volleyball trips. They travelled the country together. Donald as driver and Caitlyn as navigator.

Their relationship grew stronger weekend after weekend. They bonded over ordering similar meals, sleeping in cheap hotel rooms and taking the bait on rental car upgrades.

“Travel volleyball was critical in our relationship,” Donald said. “That was the only time where it was just the two of us. We got to spend a lot of time together. With four kids and then six kids, it became more difficult to get that one-on-one time with them.”

It was during those times that Caitlyn came to the realization that Donald was her dad. There was no need to be uncomfortable or hold back in any way because she was certain he was going to be in her life forever.

“He always wants to be supportive through everything,” Caitlyn said. “That’s something that has always stuck out to me.”

So supportive in fact, that he was thrilled for Caitlyn when she committed to continue her volleyball career and education at Purdue when her final two options were between the Boilermakers and his Hoosiers.

The Indiana University alum’s closet shines of Old Gold and Black. He’s a proud Boilermaker Dad, supporting his daughter to the fullest in everything she does.

“He goes to a ton of games,” said Anna. “I try to go as much as possible, but if one of the parents has to stay back to run the kids to other events, I’m definitely the one missing out on Caitlyn’s games. That is his pride and joy. He loves going to see Caitlyn play.”

When the Boilermakers wrapped their 2017 season in the NCAA Tournament at Salt Lake City, Utah, Donald was there, cheering on Caitlyn and her teammates.

“You can say I make all of these sacrifices and what not, but I just love to do it,” Donald said. “Life is short, and I get this opportunity to watch one of my kids play at that level, have a great time and be successful. I don’t want to miss that.”

That kind of love and support is what instigated Caitlyn into crafting a grand gesture for her dad to be revealed on her 18th birthday. A few months prior, Caitlyn approached her mom asking if she could surprise Donald by having him file a legal adoption of her.

Knowing that her husband would have to have a say in the process, Anna brought Donald in on the secret. The news was not only a surprise, it confirmed the years spent building the relationship.

“What touched me the most was, I guess, I finally realized how important the role I play is to her,” Donald said. “I didn’t realize how important I was to her and I’m sure glad I didn’t screw it up. It brought us closer.”

Donald and Anna went through the process of getting the paperwork so they could surprise Caitlyn at one of their favorite lunch spots. Donald pulled out an envelope and Caitlyn knew right away what was about to happen.

“I started crying because I wasn’t expecting it since I was still planning on doing it for him,” Caitlyn said. “I thought it was cute that he really wanted to do it, too, and kind of turned my surprise for him into his surprise for me. They put so much time and effort into getting an attorney, getting the papers signed and all of that.”

“When I saw how much it meant to her it brought tears to my eyes,” Donald said. “When you see how important you are to somebody, it makes you happy, proud, all of those warm feelings a parent has.

“A lot of times at 18 years old, kids don’t want anything to do with their parents. I have one that’s telling me she wants to officially become my daughter. That was a special day that I will never forget.”

While it had been some time since the two were stepfather and stepdaughter, now it was official.

Donald turned the tables on Caitlyn's surprise when he unveiled adoption forms during lunch just days before she took her first classes at Purdue University.

“He had always been my actual dad,” Caitlyn said. “But now that it is official…it’s perfect.”

Caitlyn’s love and admiration for her father isn’t solely because of their relationship. It’s the way he’s cared for the entire family.

“It’s nice knowing that my mom has her soulmate. They get along so well and I know they’re going to be together for the rest of their lives. Just knowing what she’s gone through with my biological dad, having gone through a divorce, raising two kids by herself for a little bit and now that she’s found someone that really cares for her and she really cares for him, it makes me really happy.”

So, each passing Father’s Day becomes more and more special. What used to be awkward, perhaps forced receptions is now met with cheerful anticipation.

“Children are born from your heart,” Anna said. “We don’t care about blood type. That’s not what makes a parent or family.

“Donald and I have such a strong marriage, but his love for our children makes me love him that much more. He’s the father my children should have and deserve to have.”

He’s helped teach¬ Caitlyn how to love, what it means to be a parent and what it takes to have a family.

“I’ll always be there for my kids like he is for us,” Caitlyn said. “I just want to be easy to talk to, understanding, and I always want to make my kids feel like they’re important. He always does a really good job of that.”

When Caitlyn begins that chapter of her life, she’ll echo the example Donald and Anna provided. Caitlyn looks forward to being a wife and a mother. Most of all, she looks forward to her wedding day, when she’ll have Donald walk her down the aisle and dance with him once again.

“She’s my daughter,” Donald said. “She’s always been my daughter and that’s why when people call me Mr. Newton, I don’t care. It’s an honor because I am her dad.”


Written by Carl Danoff, videos produced by Amanda Shike, photos by Charles Jischke and provided by the Scott family.

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