Teeter to speak at Tucker Center Symposium in April


Jean K. Freeman Keynote | WCS 2018

Susan Teeter

Susan Teeter 

Former Princeton University Women’s Swimming Coach

In her 33 years as head coach of the Princeton women’s swim team, Susan Teeter established herself as one of the most decorated swim coaches in the country. Princeton’s all-time leader in wins, Teeter tallied over 220 team victories and guided her program to 17 Ivy League titles.  During one stretch of seven seasons, Princeton won a school record of 47 consecutive meets; they also won five consecutive Ivy League titles during that time. Her legacy earned her an American Swimming Coaches Award of Excellence for four straight years, from 2006 through 2009; in 2011 she was awarded the prestigious College Swim Coaches Association “Lifetime Achievement Award”.  Most recently, Teeter was elected President of the College Swimming & Diving Coaches Association by her colleagues. She was also named USA Aquatics Sports’ Most Outstanding Woman for 2015.

Over the course of her successful career, Teeter mentored 22 All-Americans and coached swimmers who went on to become Olympians, NCAA qualifiers, World University Games team members and Ivy League champions. In 2000, Teeter’s senior class established and endowed the Susan S. Teeter Award, which is now awarded annually to a senior class swimmer who distinguishes herself as an outstanding student and a valuable member of the women’s swimming team. Teeter was also named an Honorary member of the Princeton Class of 1985 and 1986. In 1999, Princeton’s President’s Standing Committee on the Status of Women recognized Teeter for her contributions to women on campus.

Teeter has served on the staff of nine international swim teams, including as an assistant manager for the U.S.A. Swimming staff at the Summer Olympics in Sydney (2000) and head manager of the USA Olympic Swimming Team in Atlanta (1996).  From 2001-2008 she served as a special consultant to Speedo USA for all Olympic and World Championships.

Teeter also holds the credentials of Certified Professional Behavioral Analyst and Certified Professional Values Analyst from Target Training International, Ltd. She works with businesses and teams to improve programs and communication. She licensed as a Certified Life Coach from the International Coaching Society.

Teeter graduated from University of Tennessee, Knoxville with a BFA. She is a level 5 USA Swimming Coach.

How the ‘Shalane Flanagan Effect’ Works

Shalane Flanagan celebrated winning the New York City Marathon in Central Park on November 5. Credit Elsa/Getty Images

When Shalane Flanagan won the New York City Marathon last week, her victory was about more than just an athletic achievement. Of course, it’s a remarkable one: She’s the first American woman to win in 40 years, and she did so in a blistering 2 hours 26 minutes.

But perhaps Flanagan’s bigger accomplishment lies in nurturing and promoting the rising talent around her, a rare quality in the cutthroat world of elite sports. Every single one of her training partners — 11 women in total — has made it to the Olympics while training with her, an extraordinary feat. Call it the Shalane Effect: You serve as a rocket booster for the careers of the women who work alongside you, while catapulting forward yourself.

“Shalane has pioneered a new brand of ‘team mom’ to these young up-and-comers, with the confidence not to tear others down to protect her place in the hierarchy,” said Lauren Fleshman, who became a professional runner in the early 2000s, around the same time Flanagan did. “Shalane’s legacy is in her role modeling, which women in every industry would like to see more of.”

Here’s how it worked until Flanagan burst onto the scene. After college, promising female distance athletes would generally embark on aggressive training until they broke down. Few of them developed the staying power required to dominate the global stage. And they didn’t have much of a community to support them; domestic women’s distance running was fractious and atrophied. In 2000, for example, only one American woman qualified for the Olympic marathon, after training alone in her Anchorage home on a treadmill.

But things changed after 2009, when Flanagan joined Jerry Schumacher’s fledgling running group in Portland, Ore., called the Bowerman Track Club. She was the team’s lone woman, and worked with him to create something new: a team of professional female distance runners who would train together and push one another to striking collective success. They were coached by a man and surrounded mostly by male runners, but over time Flanagan and her teammates outperformed the men in the national and global arenas

Instead of being threatened by her teammates’ growing accomplishments, Flanagan embraced them, and brought in more women, elevating them to her level until they become the most formidable group of distance athletes in the nation. National championships, world championships, Olympics: They became some of the best runners in the world.

One of them, Emily Infeld, joined the club in Portland after college, but developed one stress fracture after another. She contemplated quitting in 2014. That December, Flanagan took her aside for a glass of wine and a talk.

“I was really struggling — I cried and told her ‘I can’t do it, my body isn’t built for this,’ ” recalled Infeld. “And she totally changed my mind-set. She told me that of course this was bad, but she believed I could do better. I got better, we trained together and she held me accountable. It’s completely changed my career.”

By the following August, Infeld had become one of the fastest runners in the world, taking a surprise bronze in the 10,000 meters at the World Championships.

This is not all selfless acts of mentorship; the camaraderie Flanagan has fostered with her teammates served her well.

“I thoroughly enjoy working with other women,” Flanagan told me. “I think it makes me a better athlete and person. It allows me to have more passion toward my training and racing. When we achieve great things on our own, it doesn’t feel nearly as special.”

In fact, it arguably made the difference in securing her spot in the Olympics last year.

On a searing day in Los Angeles at the United States Olympic marathon trials in February 2016, Flanagan and her teammate Amy Cragg broke away from the pack early in the race. They had spent months training together for that day and ran stride-for-stride in matching uniforms. But toward the end of the race, Flanagan’s face turned red and she began to wilt, staggering a bit as their advantage narrowed.

Cragg slowed down and urged her on, pacing her over the few final miles and even fetching her water so Flanagan could conserve energy, a remarkable demonstration of support on a racecourse. Flanagan barely made it across the finish line, where she collapsed into Cragg’s arms. But Flanagan was able to make her fourth Olympic team and go on to become the top American finisher in the Olympic marathon in Rio, in sixth place.

“We had run thousands of miles together; we had worked so hard for this. She had been there every step of the way, struggling with me,” Cragg told me a few months after the race. “We all have someone like Shalane where you’re kind of dependent on her, who has your back and would do the same thing.”

This year, Cragg took the bronze medal in the marathon at the track and field world championships.

Flanagan’s leadership style doesn’t fit the “girl boss” leadership archetypes that are flourishing in pop culture, the Ivanka Trump feminism, with its shallow claims of support for women, that yields no results. (Ms. Trump’s kind of feminism may attract cheers at races, but it does not win them.) Flanagan does not just talk about elevating women; she elevates them. And they win.

The Flanagan kind of feminism — a ruthless adherence to goals — rarely makes for interesting stories in the moment. It took Flanagan from the time she turned professional, in 2004, until this year to win a major international race; years of tedium and drudgery, and robotic routine (churning her legs through 130 miles a week). She went on her first vacation in seven years of marathon training after suffering a stress fracture this spring. It’s not fun, and it’s not relatable.

To be sure, Flanagan’s unapologetic competitiveness is not universally popular, but she is respected for it. Flanagan boldly acknowledged the work she put into her marathon training and was unabashed about wanting to win before the race. Her victory in New York involved fist-pumping and profanity-laced affirmations as she crossed the finish line in front of millions of viewers.

We usually see competitive women, particularly athletically excellent women, only in one of two ways: either competing to defeat one another, or all about team over self. But that’s a flawed, limiting paradigm. The Shalane Effect dismantles it: She is extraordinarily competitive, but not petty; team-oriented, but not deferential. Elevating other women is actually an act of self-interest: It’s not so lonely at the top if you bring others along.

So, it was no coincidence that, with the support system she spent years building for herself, it was Flanagan who finally prevailed.

A Lesson from a Legend


Listen Without an Agenda: A Lesson from a Legend
By Andy Grant
Posted: Monday, September 25th, 2017.
Filed under ATHLETeX, Community

Almost a year ago, I was blessed to be introduced to a true legend in the coaching world. Coach Susan Teeter, the long-term Women’s Swim & Dive coach at Princeton attended a work event we hosted, and months later I found myself with the opportunity to partner with her and support her team through the consulting approaches our company utilizes with athletics teams.

After finishing a session with the swim and dive team, we headed to dinner so that I could experience one of the best burgers in town. I may not have expected to spend three hours at dinner, but I believe I could have sat and listened to her wisdom for many more. What came out of our conversation was insight into the athletics world, personal lives, and parenting. I was just hoping to soak it all in, so much so that after I got back to my hotel, I wrote down everything I could remember from our conversation. There was one consistent theme and message Coach wanted to make sure I got, and that was to LISTEN. To her, listening was one of the most fundamental and important things she could do as a coach to better understand those she was working to grow and develop.

Now the idea of listening to others seems pretty simple and even more so, respectful. The problem however was that when Coach shared this idea with me, it was not only advice, but a challenge to our time at dinner. As we talked about life and she shared why it is so important to listen to your significant other, teammates, coaches, anyone in your life she put with it a small caveat that, sure enough, turned on the light bulb in my brain. At 32 years old, I can honestly say that I was not a great listener.

The advice: Listen without an agenda, listen without thinking about how to respond, listen without thinking how to get something out of the conversation. Simply listen. The hardest part while at dinner was to respond to the challenge of listening as she talked. I had my phone with me, my wife was calling, and I had questions in my mind I wanted to ask. As I fought the urge to speak up, or look at my phone, I simply sat and listened. It was so rewarding to invest in what she had to say and share while not working on how will I respond, or what can I add to the conversation. I was able to listen with a focus on learning more about her and more from her. While in our professional life or personal life, how often do we take time to just listen? I know for me, at that point it was not enough!

I would venture to guess like others, we all feel busy, and our minds are jumping throughout the day to different thoughts, ideas, and things we need to get done. Ask yourself this: When was the last time you went to someone you care about, asked them about their day, and just sat and listened to them? That means listening without the intent to get to something you want to share about your day, or something you want to do after you talk to them, but just sit quietly and listen to what they have to say. This is similar to the idea of breathing exercises — as we focus on our breath, in then out, we can only focus on that, our brain will not let us think about anything else. If we can listen with that intent, the focus will be on what we hear, and not what we think should come out of our mouths next.

Imagine what you could hear, learn, and take in if we all took time to listen without an agenda, listen with purpose, and listen with the intent to hear someone. I know for me, being able to do that left me with many more life lessons from that dinner, and great insight into those I care the most about in my life. So now I challenge you, go listen to someone today!

This post was written by HUMANeX teammate Andy G.

The Field Where Men Still Call the Shots

The Field Where Men Still Call the Shots

The lack of female coaches in youth sports can make lasting impressions on boys and girls.

A girl stands next to a punching bag, looking like she is about to punch.
Nacho Doce / Reuters
For teenagers aspiring to make it onto a high-school sports team, the summer-vacation days of sleeping in are drawing to a close. By mid-August, many hopeful athletes will be exerting themselves before a cadre of school coaches, striving to demonstrate their fitness or conceal their summer sloth. Younger kids, too, soon will be back on the playing fields—if they ever left—and will begin training for their miniature versions of  various varsity sports.

Maggie Moriarty was one of those kids. Long before she began competing for the women’s lacrosse team at Holy Cross College, she shined on dozens of youth and school athletic squads. As a tiny, ponytailed 5-year-old, Moriarty played soccer on the town league, adding lacrosse and basketball the next year. Her athletic prowess followed her to high school, where every fall she played varsity soccer as the team’s scrappy midfielder, and every spring she excelled from the attack position as a four-year varsity lacrosse player. By the time she graduated in 2016, she held her high school’s record for assists.

As is true for many serious young athletes, sports have shaped Moriarty’s life and identity. She recalls vividly one soccer game during sophomore year, when her team tied a local rival in the county tournament and it was her turn to take the penalty kicks. Moriarty blew a shot, the team lost, and she crumbled, a puddle of sweat and tears. She also remembers the jubilation she felt as a high-school senior when her lacrosse team clawed its way back from a three-goal deficit and seized the state championship.

Her coaches have been towering influences, providing guidance, leadership, and comfort when needed, as with that ill-fated penalty kick. (“My soccer coach gave me huge hugs after that game,” she said.) Her most influential coaches guided her for years, some through outside clubs as well as school. Her high-school lacrosse coach, she said, played an especially pivotal role in her life: “He had more of an impact on me than any of my teachers.”

Moriarty estimated that as many as 20 coaches guided her various sports teams before college. What united all her head coaches, across sports, was gender: All were male.

Much attention and worry has been devoted to the decline of female coaches at the collegiate level since Title IX was passed in 1972. This landmark legislation prohibited discrimination on the basis of sex in all educational programs that receive federal funds, and its passage compelled colleges to ramp up the number of athletic teams for girls to stay on par with what they offered boys. While nudging a record number of girls into athletics, Title IX also contributed to an unexpected and steady drop in the number of female collegiate coaches of women’s teams, from 90 percent in 1972 to 43 percent in 2014. In response to Title IX, many colleges combined male and female athletic departments, which in turn often meant that men now oversaw women’s teams; the law also meant pay parity for women’s-team coaches, the now-lucrative salaries attracting male coaches to female sports. These phenomena, among others, pushed women out of college coaching.

What’s gained scant notice is the even greater scarcity of women coaches in youth sports organizations and secondary schools. According to a 2015 survey conducted by the Sports and Fitness Industry Association, one of the few national organizations that carries out research on youth sports, only 27 percent of the more than 6.5 million adults who coach youth teams up to age 14 are women. Scarce data of any kind is collected on coaches, but a 2014 report on high-school coaches in Minnesota found a similar discrepancy: Across the state, just 21 percent of high-school head coaches, and 28 percent of assistant coaches, were women. The same study found that 42 percent of girls’ teams, 2 percent of boys’ teams, and 21 percent of co-ed teams were headed by a woman. As for assistant coaches, the numbers were similarly small, except the all-boys’ teams had no female assistant coaches at all. Enormous numbers of children experience this imbalance in athletic role models: The Aspen Institute’s Project Play surmises that up to 57 percent of kids ages 6 to 12 play team sports annually, even if it’s just one season a year.

These early—and for many prolonged—experiences with predominantly male leadership can leave lasting impressions on both boys and girls.

Given the historical context of youth sports, perhaps the lopsided numbers of male and female coaches makes sense. Early promoters of organized athletics for kids believed that team competitions would help boys develop the critical manly attributes they would need to contribute to an industrial society. Luther Halsey Gulick, a social reformer and leading figure at a Massachusetts YMCA who rose to prominence in the 19th century, added team sports to the Y’s slim menu of athletic options and introduced interscholastic sports to New York City’s public schools. He had an evangelical mindset: “The fundamental qualities to be cultivated in the boy are those of muscular strength, the despising of pain, driving straight to the mark, and the smashing down of obstacles,” he wrote in A Philosophy of Play, which was published in 1920, shortly after his death. “The world needs power and the barbaric virtues of manhood, together with the type of group loyalty which is based upon these savage virtues.”

Military leaders and heads of business also seized on the benefits of organized youth sports, said Tom Farrey, the head of the Sports & Society Program at the Aspen Institute and author of Game On, via email. Athletic teams would divert aimless city boys into healthy pursuits and shape them into reliable workers, solid soldiers, and fellow patriots. Sports would serve as an introduction into this respectable world, with the coach acting as a boy’s first boss or commanding officer.

Few youth coaches today would bluntly encourage the cultivation of savage virtues. Still, a century later, most boys playing sports see the same face of leadership in the people at the helm of their teams.

Why so relatively few women decide to coach for high-school or youth sports teams is unclear. After all, thousands of girls who grew up playing sports under Title IX are qualified to coach, and many are parents themselves. But the management of such teams, all of it volunteer, typically splits along gender lines. According to a 2009 study by the sociologists Michael Messner and Suzel Bozada-Deas, men typically coach, and women typically serve as “team moms,” organizing the snack schedule, managing logistics, and collecting money for coaches’ gifts, among other administrative work. In the researchers’ view, this imbalance stems from “institutional gender regimes” that divide the work between men and women based on traditional roles. The well-documented gender gap in confidence may also be part of the answer. And some mothers who might otherwise enjoy leading their child’s athletic team are vetoed by their offspring. “My kids didn’t even want me to cheer; I’m their mother!” said Kathleen Feeney, a mom whose two sons who played on ample youth sports and high school teams.

Yet the preponderance of male coaches, even kind and gentle ones, has consequences for boys. “Boys are denied the ability to see women operate in leadership roles that males most respect,” Farrey said. “This has deep implications for our society as boys grow into adulthood, work with, and decide whether to empower, women,” he added. Exposure to female coaches can pay dividends for boys.

Consider Leland Jones, a 20-year old junior at the University of California, Berkeley, who grew up in New Jersey and graduated from high school as one of the state’s top distance runners. Until the ninth grade, Jones had been coached only by men. But as a freshman, he and his teammates were trained by a small squad of coaches that included a nationally ranked woman runner who assisted both girls’ and boys’ cross-country teams. Jones never doubted her mettle. She sometimes came to practice with ice bags the size of grapefruits taped to her quads, the better to relieve the muscle pain from her own early-morning workout. Other times, she joined in the teams’ hardest runs—multiple half-miles at race pace, repeat sprints up extreme hills—before stretching with the group and offering training advice or racing strategies. It was her zeal for running as well as her kindheartedness that made her such an effective coach, Jones said. “She was definitely a role model,” he added.

Of course, for girls, the absence of women coaches means a dearth of female role models in powerful leadership positions. And same-sex role models matter, particularly for women. The University of Toronto social psychologist Penelope Lockwood, who has studied the impact of race and gender in role modeling, found that girls benefit from same-gender role models more acutely than boys. Female role models act as “inspirational examples of success” and “guides to the potential accomplishments for which other women can strive,” Lockwood concluded.

Naturally, the lack of female coaches also signals to girls that coaching is not a career option that’s open to them. If the overwhelming majority of coaches they encounter are men, young women would logically conclude that sports and coaching are better left to the males. And the research bears that out: Girls who were coached by men were less likely to pursue coaching careers than those led by women. “When you only see men in positions of power, you conclude ‘sports are not for me’,” said Nicole LaVoi, the co-director of the Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport at the University of Minnesota.

More generally, girls who see just males in charge of teams may develop the distorted belief that leadership roles are reserved for men—and that aspiring to lead means adopting a masculine style of governance. To be sure, men don’t manage with punishment and threats any more than women lead with lollipops and cuddles. But research shows that men and women, in general, have different leadership styles: A 2013 symposium at Harvard Business School on women leaders that included a meta-analysis of the research on male and female managers found that women have a “more participative, androgynous, and transformational leadership style,” while men “adopt a top-down, ‘command and control’ style.” Also notable was that male and female leaders differed in their ideals and outlook, with women favoring “benevolence” and “universalism” more than their male counterparts. If female athletes have only male coaches, they’re apt to experience a kind of leadership that can controvert what feels natural to them and insinuate that they lack the faculties to lead.

And if female athletes have only male coaches, they could also be apt to disengage with sports altogether. Indeed, Risa Isard, the senior program associate at the Aspen Sports & Society Program, wonders if the scarcity of female coaches at younger levels helps explain why girls still trail the number of boys who start and continue playing—even though more girls play sports today than ever before. By age 14, girls drop out of sports at twice the rate of boys, just at the time when girls stop speaking up and asserting themselves. And non-participation has a health consequence: Compared to girls who play sports, inactive females have worse grades, graduate from high school at lower rates, and are more likely to become pregnant. “Girls respond well to female coaches, and good coaches keep kids in sports,” Isard said. Thus, the shortage of female coaches has a potential health consequence for those girls who connect better to fellow females, and who opt out or quit when women coaches are absent.

For the majority of sporty girls and boys who will rarely if ever answer to a female head coach, the absence of women leaders in this slice of their lives may feel inconsequential. It’s just sports, after all. With any luck, boys and girls have ample role models of both genders in other places—at home, in school, at work. But athletics are deeply important to many Americans, a reality that’s visible in the genuflecting before professional and college players, and in the robust participation rates for kids in club, town, and school teams. And sports are a window into society, revealing the larger culture’s values and hang-ups. In this regard, it would be strange to think of sports as any different from business or politics, where many more men than women similarly go on to lead.

Farrey of the Aspen Sports & Society Program wonders how the country would be different if young men who played sports were coached by qualified women. “Would we have more female CEOs and senators if every male in America had an effective female coach growing up? Would Hillary have been elected President? My guess is absolutely, yes.”

About the Author

  • Linda Flanagan is a freelance writer and high school cross-country coach. Her work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and Newsweek. She is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post.

She LEADS -USA Swimming


She LEADS – August 13-14

The Real Reason Susan Teeter Was a Princeton Legend by Chris DeSantis

The Real Reason Susan Teeter Was a Legend

April 20, 2017

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.

Teeter awarded with National Collegiate Trophy by CSCAA

Teeter Wins National Collegiate Trophy

The College Swimming and Diving Coaches Association of America have selected Kris Kubik and Susan Teeter as recipients of its highest award, the National Collegiate and Scholastic Trophy.

Teeter, the head women’s swimming coach at Princeton for the past thirty-three years, and Kubik, Texas’ the longtime men’s associate head swimming coach who retired last year will be recognized at the CSCAA’s 57th Annual Awards Banquet on May 8th at the Bahia Resort in San Diego.

The National Collegiate and Scholastic Swimming Trophy, is presented annually to an individual or organization which, in the estimation of the recipient’s peers has contributed in an outstanding way to swimming as a competitive sport and healthful recreational activity.  This award is also presented by NISCA to the individual or organization which has made the most significant contributions to aquatic sports at the interscholastic level.

Quotes about Susan Teeter

“There are few coaches in the sport of swimming, or throughout the NCAA for that matter, who have had as much success as Coach Teeter.  She is a legend by all standards. Her talents and her impact extend well beyond the technical aspects of coaching, as she has truly changed the lives of over three decades of Princeton swimmers through her total commitment to developing the whole student-athlete.”
–Princeton Director of Athletics Mollie Marcoux Samaan

“I want to congratulate Susan on this tremendous and well deserved award. Over her 33 year career, Susan has helped countless women become better athletes, but more importantly, she has helped us all become stronger and more empowered women. Susan legacy’s will live on for generations, and while Susan will be greatly missed on the pool deck, we know she will continue to remain involved and help shape the next generation of young women.” Alicia Biggs (Aemisegger) ‘2010, Princeton Female Female Athlete of the Decade

Sports Women’s Swimming and Diving: A Coach for Life

By Brett Tomlinson   Published in the February 8, 2017 Issue

Photo by Beverly Schaefer
In 33 seasons, Susan Teeter’s teams have won 17 Ivy titles.
Teeter to step away after building a tradition of successful swimmers
Women’s swimming and diving coach Susan Teeter keeps a handful of magic tricks in her office on the deck of DeNunzio Pool. One of her favorites is a “magic vase” that she has used to motivate her team at big meets.

“No matter how much you drain it, when you set it down, magically, water appears again,” she says with a half-smile. The message: When you think you’re empty, you’ve got to make that water appear, somehow, some way.

For 33 seasons, Teeter has been replenishing the reservoir of Princeton swimming with remarkable success, leading the Tigers to 17 Ivy League championships and more than two dozen All-America certificates. Later this month, her team will try to bring the coach one more title.

Teeter announced her upcoming retirement in early December, and appreciative messages from alumni and others in the swimming community quickly followed. “It’s been humbling,” she says. “Some of the emails and some of the cards I have to stop reading because I can’t see through my tears.”

When alumni talk about Teeter — invariably “Teeter,” never “Susan” or “Coach” — they highlight the same characteristics: her grace and class; her insightfulness and dedication; her emotional IQ; and the leaping, cheering enthusiasm that momentarily overrides her best efforts to stay calm and composed during meets.

Grace Cornelius Limaye ’95 recalls the first time she met Teeter, at a national meet in 1989. In the warmup pool, another swimmer accidentally jumped in on top of Limaye, and the edge of Limaye’s goggles opened a gash under her eye. Teeter “basically just dropped everything and helped me,” says Limaye, who went on to be an All-American and captain at Princeton. “That’s what she does, and that’s why she has such a devoted following.”

“Anyone can write a practice or take a split,” says Nikki Larson ’16, one of last year’s captains, “but not all coaches can figure out what makes people tick. … [We knew] she would be there, even if it wasn’t swimming-related.”

For Lisa Boyce ’14, another team captain and All-American, Teeter’s influence was apparent when she first met the upperclass swimmers during a recruiting trip. “They seemed poised, they seemed put-together,” she says. “They were the people I wanted to grow up to be like.”

Alyson Goodner ’00 adds that with a roster of more than 40 athletes, Teeter works to make sure “everyone feels appreciated and respected.” Goodner has had a particularly close relationship with the coach, who officiated at her wedding in 2012 and now is the godmother to her son. Even long after graduation, Goodner says, “she’s someone we constantly strive to make proud of us.”

As a competitive swimmer, Teeter’s career did not have a smooth start. She entered high school a few years after Title IX passed, opening the modern era of women’s athletics. But the schools in her native Memphis were slow to welcome girls’ teams. Teeter petitioned the board of education to swim in the boys’ meets, a request that the athletic director approved with a caveat: The girls would need to find their own supervisor. Teeter convinced the football coach to sign on, and into the water she went.

Soon after, while working as a lifeguard at a local country club, Teeter took her first coaching job. “I just got hooked on motivating young people and seeing the reaction when they could achieve something that they didn’t think they could achieve,” she says.

At the University of Tennessee, Teeter started as a team manager and was promoted to assistant coach while still an undergrad. By the time she became Princeton’s head coach in 1984, she was a veteran of sorts, though still only a few years older than her swimmers.

Teeter won her first Ivy title in 1990 when the Tigers swam to a 7-0 dual-meet record. In the next decade, her teams won the league four more times, and the coach served on the staffs of two U.S. Olympic teams. From 1998 to 2004, women’s swimming and diving won 47 straight dual meets, a Princeton record for any sport. The Tigers remain a perennial favorite at the Ivy meet, winning four of the last seven titles.

Teeter says she has always wanted “to be somebody who walks off the deck when I still love the sport and still love coaching.” The downside, she concedes, is that she’ll miss the job. But she hopes to stay connected to her sport. She is president of the College Swimming Coaches Association of America, with a full year left on her term. She also runs team-building workshops part time and hopes that work will continue to provide an “inspirational fix.”

“I’m never going to stop coaching,” she says. “Coaching’s ingrained in me.”

Dec. 15 TigerCast: Susan Teeter Reflects On 33 Years Of Team-Building, Titles, And Tradition

Dec. 15 TigerCast: Susan Teeter Reflects On 33 Years Of Team-Building, Titles, And Tradition

Only a few days removed from her retirement announcement, Princeton women’s swimming & diving coach Susan Teeter joins TigerCast for a long sit-down about her career — from the mentors who helped her to those first few hours after her announcement. She talks about team-building, creating the foundation for a championship run, coaching Alicia Aemisegger, and plenty more in this 30-minute sitdown with the 17-time Ivy League champion.

Interview: Susan Teeter 4:45.

TigerCast is a weekly podcast that features interviews with both athletes and coaches, as well as provides coverage of the biggest upcoming events for Princeton’s 37 varsity teams. For the first time, you can now subscribe to TigerCast through iTunes or a variety of other podcast apps; you can also go directly to the TigerCast page, or you can listen to each week’s show directly from GoPrincetonTigers.com

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