Dean reflects on retirement after 31 years of service

Coach+Susan+Dean+stands+with+the+varsity+team+on+Alumni+Night+after+winning+two+sets+against+Parkway+South.

Sarah Lashly

Coach Susan Dean stands with the varsity team on Alumni Night after winning two sets against Parkway South.

After 31 years of teaching and coaching, Athletic Director and math teacher Susan Dean is retiring this May.

“There are financial incentives to retire when you get to a certain point,” Dean said.  “I would like to lighten my load a little bit and maybe just teach part-time somewhere, maybe a private school, and play a little golf.”

Coaching volleyball offered Dean the opportunity to get to know students outside of the classroom.

“I can’t fathom ever not coaching, as I was a teacher because it built relationships with kids, and kids that I never had in class I was able to coach or get to know. Coaching shaped me as a person as being part of the kid’s life outside of the math book,” Dean said.

Over the years Dean has not only enhanced her player’s skills, but she has grown as a person during the process.

“Coaching forces me to be my best all the time because I know that all of the players are watching me and so it helped me make good choices when I really didn’t want to in terms of yelling at an official or kicking a ball or throwing a clipboard,” Dean said. “Just knowing that my role was to be a role model for those kids has always helped me take the high road.”

Junior Colleen Smith, a three year varsity player, has always viewed Dean as someone to look up to.

“Just her attitude and view of life, it’s just encouraged me and motivated me and just kept me with a positive attitude,” Smith said.

Dean built relationships on and off the court with her players and has memories from her players to take away from her coaching experience.

“I think every memorable moment has a memorable kid in it, somebody that really grew as a player or had a life changing event happening in their life that we were able to be there,” Dean said.

Smith views Dean as someone who is unique and special as a coach.

“She treats each person differently and looks at them and she understands what she needs to do to make them reach their full potential,” Smith said. “I have learned from her that all it takes to win is adjusting to the other team. This strategy has really helped our team score points throughout the game and is one of the reasons that we could accomplish so much.”

Dean is still learning about herself every game and practice through her players and their experiences.

“I told my daughter Molly when we had our Webster Groves game, every team and every player, every season teaches you something about yourself,” Dean said.

Dean says she will miss the camaraderie with the volleyball girls as their coach.

“I always say surround yourself with good people because that is what my mom taught me and I am going to miss that a lot,” Dean said.