Betsy Specketer keeps her Coach of the Year plaques hidden in her private office.
Not one for self-endorsement, Specketer conceals a career’s worth of achievements behind the door at her on-campus workspace. And in a way, it’s fitting. It’s the sort of humorous gesture that speaks to her character, the sort of thing that reveals what’s truly important to her.
From an outsiders’ perspective, it’s hard not to appreciate Specketer’s modest attitude — though it’s hardly indicative of the success she’s enjoyed at Salt Lake Community College. She is a coach’s coach, an anti-egomaniac, a refreshing throwback with authentic coaching integrity.
She is also a model of consistency.
Consider her body of work: 10 Region Coach of the Year awards, five conference championships, four NJCAA Tournament appearances — including two Sweet 16 runs in as many years — and not a single season finishing below .500. She bears a 70% career winning percentage at a level where roster turnover is significant and replacing talent is a year-to-year exercise.
Yet, despite the elbow grease that comes with building a consistent on-court force, despite all the accolades and acclaim, Specketer holds little pride in her own resume’.
“Not much at all,” says Specketer with a grin. “If you really put it into perspective, it’s all about the kids. I appreciate all of the effort that everybody has made for us to win — assistant coaches, players, all the way down the line. So they [conference coaches] give out an award, but it goes to a lot of people not just me.”
Long before coaching, Specketer was a multi-sport athlete (softball, basketball) at her alma mater of Illinois State University. She graduated with her bachelor’s degree in 1981 before returning to school to earn a master’s degree in sports administration in 1991.
She arrived at SLCC in 1994 as an assistant to then-head coach Monica Starrett. Two years later, she was named head coach, winning a conference championship in her debut season. She hasn’t looked back since.
In the unforgiving profession that is coaching, losing a job is an easier task than keeping one. For many, it’s not a question of “if” so much as it is “when”. Multiple losing seasons, poor recruiting, and ugly off-court incidents are proven causes for pink slips in the coaching sphere.
However, Specketer has endured.
Last month marked the finish of her 19th season at SLCC as her group lost to Iowa Western, 57-46, in the Sweet 16 round of the NJCAA Tournament. The Bruins ended as the 8th ranked team in the NJCAA Top-25 with an overall record of 27-7.
She will return for her milestone 20th season, albeit without First-Team All-Region players Cassidy Whitney and Raushan Gultekin on the roster. As is custom in coaching at the junior college ranks, Specketer understands the importance of reloading rather than rebuilding.
“It’s just a matter of bringing in kids that buy into your system and understand the culture that you’ve established here, and really wanting to maintain that level of success,” says Specketer. “If you have the leadership that helps the new ones coming in and the talent coming in, you can stay up here. That’s pretty much been my focus every year: you want to get to a level where it’s expected of you and it’s not a surprise.”