Greta Grothe is not your average head coach. Unlike most people who pursue careers in college-level coaching, she chose not to play collegiate sports herself. Like many athletes, she became burnt out and made the terribly hard decision to take a break and live her life as a regular student.
Although she does not have a personal collegiate athletics experience, her experiences with challenging herself as a student, rather than as a student-athlete, gives her an advantage over other coaches in understanding that there is more to student-athletes’ lives than just their sport.
Grothe’s hope is that her experience as a normal college student will help her to allow her athletes to continue to focus on their athletics and strive to be the best they can be, while also having the full experience of any other college student because college is a once in a lifetime experience.
This upcoming 2016-17 season will be Grothe’s second season as head coach for the women’s basketball team at the University of Dallas. She is the 14th head coach for the Lady Crusaders.
TF: Can you explain why you made the decision to not play college basketball?
GG: I was playing club soccer as well as basketball my whole life, and I think that by the time that I got to college and [had to] make that decision [to play], I was just burnt out. I didn’t want to be identified as an athlete anymore. Do I regret that decision? I don’t know … I wouldn’t have made the same friends that I did [if I had played sports].
TF: How has your decision not to play collegiate sports shaped the way you coach?
GG: I kind of have a better understanding of what else is out there besides just sports. As a college student, I was able to just do school; I didn’t participate in any other activities. But I think I have that outlook that there are other things out there besides sports. However, during season, I want my team to be able to focus on [basketball] but, outside that, to go have fun too.
TF: This is your second season as the women’s basketball head coach at UD. How are you preparing for this season that has just begun?
GG: This is my 10th or 11th year coaching collegiately, and we are just doing the same thing. You just have to be prepared … Every day is just a different day, and we just take each day, day by day. We never look forward; we take each game, game by game. The teams’ only focus this week is Hendrix [University]. We never look forward.
TF: What are some of the qualities you look for in the players you recruit?
GG: Are they able to or willing to work in the gym without me? Are they going to go in and get shots off? Are they willing to [go the extra mile]? … I know they are willing to work for me, but are they willing to work for themselves? They have to be really self-motivated, especially at this level, because we can’t be [in the gym] until Oct. 15th, and if the first time we pick up a ball is Oct. 15th, then we aren’t going to be any good.
As long as I can tell they are going to be in the gym working by themselves, I think that is the biggest thing for me, and also if they are going to be a good teammate. I can make them better players, but I can’t make them a better teammate. I actually saw that a lot while I was recruiting this summer. I looked to see if they were going to be a good teammate.
TF: Is there anything that you would like to see changed in the athletics department of the university or in the university as a whole?
GG: To be honest, I am so engulfed in athletics here, that I don’t look at the university as a whole, which is probably my fault. I think people on the other side of campus are the same way; they don’t look at athletics because they are so engulfed in what they do.
I would love to have part-time assistants at least. I think that would help a lot more especially with recruiting, instead of it just being on the head coaches. That would be my biggest thing. At least give us a part-time assistant.
TF: The assistants that the teams have now are unpaid correct?
GG: Yes, they are unpaid. I’m very lucky with my coach, Lacy; he is awesome. And I started out unpaid, but you know you are always going to get someone young and inexperienced. But [coach Lacy] is awesome.
TF: When is the women’s first game?
GG: Our first game is Nov. 15 at Hendrix. Our first home game is Nov. 18, but a lot of people don’t know that just because they are probably gone for Thanksgiving. Dec. 1 is the first home [game] that everyone is back on campus [for]. If you are around on Thanksgiving break, come to our game! We are excited about this year!