Q & A
Pamela Samuelson, Director of Athletics
Pamela Samuelson joined Susquehanna University as director of athletics in July 2003. Since her arrival, Samuelson has witnessed several changes to the athletics program, but through it all, she has exuded the confidence and dedication of an effective leader whose team mentality will continue to enhance SU athletics.
SC: Since coming to Susquehanna, what changes have you seen in the athletics program?
PS: One of the biggest changes has come with our conference affiliations. We have just completed our third year of competition in the Landmark Conference for 20 of our sports. The football program, which competed for two years in the Liberty League, will now be joining our women’s golf program in the Centennial Conference. Our men’s golf just finished their first season in the Empire 8 Athletic Conference. The athletics program has seen recent changes in staffing as well. We have increased the number of head coaches who are full time in the department to 19. In addition, thanks to the generous support of John ’75 and Mary Kay Strangfeld, an intern program was established that now includes 11 full-time assistant coaches, the assistant director of intramurals and recreation, and the assistant director of athletics communications.
SC: How have these changes helped the athletics program grow?
PS: As a result of the increase in full-time coaches, as well as cooperative efforts between athletics and admissions staff, both the volume and the quality of our recruiting efforts have dramatically increased. There are now 33 percent more student-athletes at Susquehanna than there were in 2003. And because of our full-time staff, student-athletes have more daily contact with their coaches and experience more year-round activity, including involvement in fundraising and community service projects.
SC: What do you think makes Susquehanna athletics unique?
PS: The people. SU coaches teach beyond just the wins and losses. They teach their student-athletes what it takes to be successful on the field and how to transfer skills into other areas. The quality of our staff is reflected in the fact that this year, we’ve had seven of our coaching staffs recognized by their peers as Coaching Staff of the Year. Further, it is the quality of the people on our staff that, in turn, attracts student-athletes who not only have good athletic ability, but have good character as well.
SC: What are the benefits of playing sports at a Division III school like Susquehanna?
PS: For student-athletes at Susquehanna, athletics is a key part of their college experience, but it’s not the only element. Although athletics takes up a large amount of time, a good number of our student-athletes are very involved in other campus activities, and many are honored each year for their academic success.
SC: Where do you see the athletics program going in the future?
PS: This year showed a good deal of success at a lot of levels. I think the programs will only continue to become more competitive, and there will be an increase in off-the-field activity. We are implementing the Student Athlete Mentor program (SAM) this fall. The program provides training for returning athletes that gives them the tools to mentor the first-year athletes not only in sports, but in all aspects of college life. We believe this program will really enhance the experience in SU athletics. Additionally, all of our sports programs can now compete for conference championships. So as each athlete steps out on the track or the field, or dives into a swimming pool on the first day of practice, [he or she will] be inspired by the opportunity to win a conference title.
WEB EXTRA: Watch Pamela Samuelson’s video overview of SU athletics by visiting Susquehanna’s YouTube channel.
Contributing writers to The ‘Grove section are Jenny Ruth Binger ‘04, assistant director of recruitment communications; Heather Cobun ‘10 and Charlotte Lotz ‘12.