Susan Teeter

The Rumor Mill: Who Will be National Team Director?

I know because I saw on facebook that Frank Busch is officially done doing the job of National Team Director. One would think, then, that his replacement would be named very soon. But, as of the publishing of this blog there has been no formal announcement of the new National Team Director.

Sadly, I have to report that despite my compelling application I was never contacted. So I'm left to wildly guess about who the next national team director will be. Let's have some fun:

1. David Marsh

Why? Because making up rumors of David Marsh doing stuff is fun, for a lot of people. Because people like David Marsh, and he is one of the few people with a resume that fits the job. Because it's been a long time since we had a National Team Director with curly hair, and it's time for a change!

Why not? Umm, well, there is the whole thing that he took a new job a few months ago. One would think that if there was mutual interest between Marsh and USA Swimming they would have wrapped this up before he did that.

2. Bob Bowman

Why? Michael Phelps. 

Why not? Is it really more attractive than his current job? By all accounts Bowman is well compensated by ASU and free to do any number of other things to benefit from his coaching reputation. Being the National Team Director would actually put Bowman in a box that I'm not sure he should or would really want.

3. Augie Busch

Why? Nepotism!

Why not? Because the Swimswam comment section would spontaneously combust

4. Sergio Lopez

Why? Most people consider him one of the best coaches in the world. 

Why not? America can be a bit snobby about our position in the swimming world, so there could be a sentiment against hiring someone who's most similar job experience was for a tiny place like Singapore, no matter how well he did. 

5. Dave Durden

Why? He is very handsome and coached a number of the top athletes on the 2016 Olympic Team. Has been on international coaching staffs for quite a while despite still being young.

Why not? Does he want to stop coaching? The National Team Director doesn't do much coaching. Is he at the stage of his career where he wants to make such a move?

6. Teri McKeever

Why? Because she's really really well qualified

Why not? Life is not fair and misogyny is systemic. 

7. People Not From America

Why? Because they might have fresh ideas about how to improve American swimming

Why not? See the Sergio comments above. The only country "we" consider close to us is Australia and their coaching ranks are a complete mess at the moment.

8. Jack Bauerle

Why? Very successful college coach who is somehow peaking in his mid 60s.

Why not? Because Georgia apparently backed up the Brinx truck to get him to stay. 

9. Greg Meehan

Why? Greg Meehan is so hot right now. 

Why not? Very similar argument to Durden. Does he really want to step off a sure NCAA contender for the next decade at his age to not coach anymore?

10. Wild Card: Susan Teeter

Why? She's available right now. Great at telling the truth.




The Real Reason Susan Teeter was a Princeton Legend

Yesterday, it was announced that Bret Lundgaard will be the new head coach for Princeton's Women's Swimming and Diving team. Lundgaard had for years gotten nothing less than a full-throated endorsement from his boss, Tennessee head coach Matt Kredich.

Kredich's endorsement holds enormous weight, as prior to Tennessee he was undoubtedly the best women's swimming coach in the Ivy League. I say all this to establish one thing: this blog is not an attack on Bret Lundgaard, who applied for a job and did all the right things to get it. Lundgaard is not the problem here, and will in fact have an opportunity to be part of the solution.

Princeton's previous head coach was Susan Teeter. Teeter is a Princeton institution, so much so that I had nearly forgotten that she too came from the University of Tennessee to coach the Tigers. But her impact went way beyond her results at Princeton. Teeter was a mentor to more coaches, men and women, than you can shake a stick at.

In fact, she's definitely in my top five "Coaches I wish I had worked for", along with the aforementioned Kredich, Mark Bernardino, Bob Groseth and George Kennedy. Teeter often provided more guidance and support to assistant coaches on opposing teams than the head coaches of those teams.

To say Teeter is a "female coach" is like saying that Princeton is a "New Jersey Private University".

But to not discuss Teeter's gender is to ignore a disturbing process that is felt particularly hard in swimming. As I mentioned in a previous post, the situation for female coaches in college sports overall is getting worse, not better. I'm sorry to report once again to my fellow men, but it's on us.

Again, it is not Bret Lundgaard's fault. To understand who is to blame, and what somebody like Lundgaard can do to change this, you need to understand the process by which head coaches are made.

College swimming operates on an apprenticeship model. Many coaches start as volunteers, graduate assistants or other low paying positions. If they prove themselves, they can advance to be full-time, paid assistant coaches. Many of these assistant coaches are not well-paid, but they are in their 20s and early 30s and can find a way to survive.

At this point, part of the head coaches job is to develop their assistant coaches to be head coaches. This is what Matt Kredich has done for Bret Lundgaard, and Lundgaard was quick to thank Kredich for that development during his time at Tennessee.

Many of these assistant coaches start working their way into the head coaching ranks in their 30s. Often this is the huge attrition point for women in college swimming. Here is a list of excuses for this from my fellow men that I don't have patience for anymore.

1. "These darn women have babies and then don't want to coach anymore" HOW ABOUT YOU MAKE A WORKPLACE IN 2017 WHERE A WOMAN DOESN'T HAVE TO CHOOSE BETWEEN HAVING A CHILD, A FAMILY AND WORKING THERE.

2. "We don't get any quality female applicants!". Sigh, There might be a little work involved here. Recruit women coaches. Find some women coaches you want to apply and ask them why they aren't. Correct these things. 

3. "But, like kids and child raising". Ok, I thought we already addressed this one but here's another idea for you. There are literally hundreds of great women coaches who have compromised their coaching careers for their children, but now those kids are getting a little older, maybe even going off to college.

Consider hiring them and developing them and not being agist and, I don't know, thinking about how maybe the experience of raising a child from a helpless infant to 18 years old might be extremely relevant to the job you are doing and actually might really shore up some of your own weaknesses.

Since the overwhelming majority of head coaches in swimming, even women's swimming, are men, it's up to us guys!  I hope that Bret Lundgaard, more than any result, fulfills Susan Teeter's legacy by developing great coaches for the future.