At a Big Ten school that has 22 varsity sports with more than 500 participants, it’s easy to understand how an individual athlete could feel overlooked.
But when you’re an athlete in a club sport, especially one that few people even consider a sport, you can feel downright overlooked.
Synchronized swimmer Beth Kreitzer is used to her sport going unrecognized at the University. As a club sport member, her participation is voluntary, and there are no plans to make it a varsity sport in the future.
“Synchronized swimming has gotten bigger. It’s been an NCAA sport for quite a while, but it’s definitely not one of the big sports,” Kreitzer said. “Our club has been around for over 50 years, and it’s not likely that varsity will happen. We’ve always gotten denied.”
Despite the status, Kreitzer has been involved in synchronized swimming since she was 9 and said that Minnesota’s club team was highly influential in her college selection.
But with her college career coming to a close, the senior was looking for further options in the sport.
After being certified as a coach by United States Synchronized Swimming, Kreitzer was encouraged to try out for a coaching job in Switzerland. To her surprise, but not to coach Kathy Henderson, she got it.
“I think her experience prior to the club was beneficial in giving her experience and an expanded view of the sport,” Henderson said. “Today, teams are training girls to go above and beyond even college athletics, and I think that helped too.”
Also beneficial to Kreitzer’s resume was her work with several local high school teams in Osseo and Inver Grove Heights, where she acted as a coach.
Kreitzer’s job, which will last one year, will be to coach the SC Flos Buchs team in Switzerland six days a week while also giving individual coaching time to each of the athletes.
The ultimate goal of the training is to get to the annual international competition against squards like the U.S. National Team.
Naturally, such competition makes Kreitzer antsy to perform herself, something she hopes to return to after her year abroad.
“I would really like to compete further, but the problem is that I’ve hurt a lot of joints so that it doesn’t seem possible to do it anymore,” Kreitzer said. “I might consider it after this year to give me some time to heal.”
Whether Kreitzer returns to swimming or continues to coach, Henderson feels she will have a long career in synchronized swimming.
“When you’re a good athlete and you enjoy participating, it’s fairly easy to take the next step to teach others what you have learned,” Henderson said. “With synchronized swimming being mostly voluntary, it’s clear she’s really dedicated to what she does, and working beyond college is the next step.”
Monica Wright welcomes comments at [email protected]