In June of 2018, it was announced that Sue Bower would be the first full-time athletic director at Guilford College. Bower, a graduate of Dartmouth College, had worked for 24 years with Tulane University in many different capacities. She started as the women’s golf coach and had many other Division I programs come and try to hire her away from Tulane.
Bower is an accomplished golfer and spent three years on the Ladies Professional Golf Association’s Futures Tour. Tulane reached NCAA regional tournaments in five of Bower’s last six seasons before the program was suspended due to university cutbacks forced by Hurricane Katrina.
“I would say the athletic department has changed for the better since Sue got here mostly from an organizational standpoint,” said senior Terence Schmutz. “She has also made some great hires, like our golf coach Crawford, who have done some good stuff in just a year of being here with her.”
Since her hiring, the athletic department has seen massive changes. Bower made the women’s tennis and swim coaches full-time positions.
She has also overseen weight room renovations, hired new athletic trainers, hired a director of cross country and track and field and has committed to raising roster sizes on previously underserved teams.
“(Sue) was one of the primary minds behind the Guilford Strong gym restoration project,” said senior Logan Shortt. “She has pressed all the right buttons in our community to deliver on the promise of an excellent experience for student-athletes.”
The most recent development to the athletic department has been the addition of women’s rugby and triathlon. Since 2002, women’s rugby has been considered an emerging sport by the NCAA.
“Sue has provided a level of leadership and structure that the athletic department has not had in several years,” said Shortt. “Coaches serving as ADs (Athletic Directors) can only do so much. Bringing on Sue, with her unique experience as a full-time AD, has helped push Guilford forward.”
“I feel as if the athletics department at Guilford College has passion and value again,” said junior Corby Brooke. “Sue has brought a ‘need to win’ attitude, and she endlessly supports all of the athletics programs equally.”
Possibly her most important contribution to the college has been the way she has interacted with student-athletes. She has been intimately involved with student life since being at Guilford.
For example, on a Saturday last fall, Bower drove the two and a half hours to support the football team at Emory and Henry College. The next day, Bower arose early to drive three student-athletes three and a half hours to fill in as an advisor for the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.
She spent her whole day off with students voluntarily and did so with care and passion. This kind of dedication has characterized her tenure so far.
“I know Sue pretty well. I think she’s an incredible woman, and I am grateful to have her at Guilford College,” said Brooke. “She is professional, compassionate and motivated to make Guilford athletics a competitive atmosphere. I value her support and love for athletics, and I’m thankful to be a student-athlete while she is here.”
Editor’s note: This story originally was published in Volume 106, Issue 2 of The Guilfordian on Oct. 11 2019.