Sue Roth, AHS ‘64 and former coach at Stryker High School and Goshen (Ind.) College, was honored by the college recently.
Roth received the Dr. Ruth Gunden Champion of Character award during the GC Homecoming weekend, Oct. 5-7.
“To be honest, there are a lot of people who could qualify for this award. I feel very fortunate” to receive the honor, Roth said.
Goshen College officials said Roth helped pioneer organized sports opportunities for women, striving to give them equal access in the athletic world.
She increased the number of sports available to make sure every girl had the opportunity to participate in the sport she wanted, even though she was expected to coach all sports by herself.
Public School Years
Roth, daughter of Earl and Nola, went from Zone School to Archbold High School.
After graduation she attended Goshen College, graduating in 1966. While a student there, she was a member of the Women’s Athletic Association and participated in field hockey, softball, and several intramural sports.
With her degree in hand, she taught physical education and coached for two years in Middlebury, Ind., and eight years at Stryker.
She returned to Goshen in 1976, where she taught physical education.
“I’m a generalist,” Roth said.
In public schools, she worked with youngsters from kindergarten to grade 12; at Goshen, she worked with adults to age 50.
She also coached field hockey, volleyball, and track and field at Goshen.
While coaching at Goshen, she worked with Ruth Gunden in developing the Hoosier Conference for Women, which filled an organizational need for women in sports.
She was named Coach of the Year in volleyball by the Hoosier Conference in 1985, 1988 and 1989.
Roth initiated the women’s track and field program at GC.
She also promoted student athletes as commissioner of the Indiana Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women.
Roth coached during a time when sports opportunities for women were growing. Tournaments for girls sports were just beginning when she graduated from college.
While she coached all kinds of sports, most of her experience was in volleyball and track and field, she said.
Over the years, she’s seen many changes in those sports.
“In volleyball, we’ve gone to ‘power volleyball’ from backyard volleyball,” she said.
“In track and field, we went from the softball throw to the discus, the hammer, the javelin, and the shot put.
“A lot of things have changed in my experience.”
Roth said she would like to see athletes compete in more than one sport.
“I think it’s good to be in other sports. You get some cross-training, and you don’t develop over-use injuries,” she said.
“But I recognize it’s a different era.”
Women’s sports are played at a higher level, she said.
“I enjoyed the time I was in. I got to see a lot of progress.”
Today, she enjoys retirement.
“Retirement is worth working for,” she said.
She lives on a small farm, and there are always chores to do.
But she stays active in sports as a track and field official for the Ohio High School Athletic Association, along with other opportunities.
Over her years of coaching, was there one particular team or group of students that stood out?
“That’s hard for me to say,” she said.
“I was very fortunate to have great kids.”–David Pugh