The perfect scenario for Salt Lake Community College women’s basketball coach Betsy Specketer: “Tie game, 30 seconds left, you have the ball at half court.”
A quarter century of coaching excellence came to an end after Specketer announced her retirement earlier this month. Specketer holds a 545-196 record at SLCC and was at the helm for five Region 18 titles, the last one coming in her final season.
After 37 years in coaching, Specketer is ready for something else in life.
“Part of it is I’m originally from Illinois and I want to get out there more to see my family,” she explains. “I don’t know quite what’s next for me. I just know that the teaching and coaching part of my career is over for right now, though it will always be with me.”
Specketer had decided to retire long before the end of the 2018-19 season, but kept it quiet so that her team could focus.
While her coaching career may be over, Specketer’s will to win remains. The feeling of satisfaction after a victory was always short-lived, like an addiction.
“The number one thing is winning. How do I win the next game? It keeps you up at night,” she says.
Specketer doesn’t quite know how she gained this desire, but it drove her to 15 regional title games and one NJCAA Final Four appearance as the leader of the Bruins.
“I think it’s just competitive nature. I was born with it. I can’t really explain it any further than that,” she says. “I was born to teach. At the end of the day that’s all coaching is, teaching.”
The most important part of that teaching, according to Specketer, is patience.
“Patience is the number one thing that comes to mind,” she says. “You have to, especially at this level, adjust to new players every year and get them fit into the system; teach them how to be collegiate athletes, help them grow as a team and by themselves individually, while also winning.”
With a constant roster turnover at the junior college level, it’s critical for coaches to be open to new techniques to get their teams to perform at the highest level every year.
“I try to be open to new things as much as possible. Players have changed from what they were 20 years ago, and we’ve had to learn to adapt. The game hasn’t changed that much. The player has,” Specketer remarks.
This sentiment is echoed by most coaches these days in almost every sport.
“They [the players] don’t just want to sit back and [perform], they want to understand why you are doing what you are doing. And that’s not a bad thing,” Specketer says. “It’s not as blown out of proportion as people make it, it’s not like they’re coming in here questioning my authority as their leader; they just want a reason to buy in.”
Despite the individual achievements and accolades, which include 10 regional Coach of the Year awards, Specketer readily gives credit to the coaches and players under her leadership.
“Without the help of my awesome coaching staff throughout the years, none of this could have been accomplished. Without the players, none of this could have been accomplished,” she says.
If you want to celebrate Specketer as a coach, also celebrate the program. Celebrate the team. Celebrate what she has built over 25 years at SLCC.
“I would have loved to win a national championship,” she says. “That didn’t happen though, but I’m still immensely proud of what we accomplished here. We took this team from being regionally recognized to being nationally respected.”