Susan Teeter retired two years ago after her 33rd season as the ultra-successful head coach of the Princeton women’s swim team and 42nd year in coaching. Susan has faithfully served on CSCAA Board of Directors.
What has driven you to coach throughout your 42 years of experience?
"I have always loved being able to support and help athletes to reach their full potential. To be in a sport where you can make a suggestion to someone about their stroke and see an immediate impact is really exciting. As my career advanced, it was amazing to be a part of college swimming when athletes are at such a pivotal part of their lives and to be able to walk with them through all of those “growing moments” on their journey was a true honor."
What has been one of your biggest obstacles and how did you overcome it in coaching?
"Honestly, one of my biggest obstacles has been being a woman. I was trying to push our sports agenda, help our national team by being involved on the national level, but it was hard to be taken seriously in my early years because everyone assumed I was the assistant, not the Head Coach. I’m also a very direct person, so as a female, that sometimes gets attached to a descriptive word that starts with a B and isn’t fair. That hasn’t really changed for many women, although, I’ve been fortunate to be fairly successful and gain some respect through the years."
How have you seen swimming & diving change in your career?
"I think swimming hasn’t changed, but the kids and society have changed. Now we all have to make decisions around how we can shape our sport in this new territory where kids are over stressed, over stimulated, and lacking in hours per day to accomplish what is needed. Coaches have to factor in the amount of screen time our athletes are using in their day; student-athletes used to use this time to get their homework done, but are now surfing the internet. This alone changes how they show up on our deck. I also think that now that the average attention span has changed dramatically. We need to find ways to train the thought process so we don’t lose kids before we have a chance to develop them."
What was your most memorable talk at the CSCAA Convention?
"I think pretty much anything Teri McKeever has talked about; I learned something every time I listened to her. Another significant talk was in San Diego when we had a handful of really brave coaches talk about the LGBT community and coaching. The room was packed and I think it was eye opening for many coaches. We all need to learn from these coaches so we can better help our athletes."
What is the biggest challenge facing Division I (or swimming and diving in general)?
"We need to stop combining programs for many reasons. First and foremost, if you look at the top 4 programs in the country, they are all single gender teams. Secondly, every time we combine a program, we “generally” lose an opportunity for a female head coach. Athletic Directors tend to give those jobs to men. I’m not sure why we don’t ask the question “can HE coach WOMEN?”, when they are quick to say “can SHE possibly know how to coach MEN?”. I love coaching both men and women and want each of them to have a coach with a singular focus of that particular team. We need more women coaching men’s teams."
What is the legacy you want to leave in the realm of coaching?
"I want people to see that I helped make young women into strong women, young men into real men and that I gave back my time to help the big picture of our sport."