William Smith College Head Coach Sandra Chu was named the 2011-12 NCAA Division III Coach of the Year by the Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association (CRCA). It’s the first time in the history of the program that the Herons’ head coach has earned the national honor.
“This award is a great tribute to Sandra’s leadership and her ability to develop individual student-athletes within the dynamics of a team,” William Smith Director of Athletics Deb Steward said. “Together with assistant coach, Jodi Hope, Sandra challenges our rowers to be the best they can be on and off the water.”
Chu guided the Herons to one of the most successful seasons in the program’s history. William Smith successfully defended its Liberty League Championship, won four medals at the New York State Championships, including gold in the varsity eight and second varsity eight, and captured a bronze medal in the varsity eight at the ECAC National Invitational Rowing Championship.
Those performances earned the Herons a berth in the NCAA Division III Rowing Championship. On Lake Mercer in West Windsor, N.J., William Smith’s varsity eight finished third in the NCAA grand final and won the second varsity eight petite final (fifth overall) to earn the team the NCAA’s fourth place trophy. It was the Herons’ highest finish in four NCAA appearances under Chu’s leadership.
“It’s such an honor to be recognized by my peers,” Chu said. “I have so much respect for the coaches in the CRCA-it means a great deal to me to receive their accolades and is very humbling. All year long I have had the incredible pleasure and privilege to work with an exceptionally talented squad of women and it has been incredibly rewarding to watch them create such a tremendous season. This honor really illuminates the student-athletes in the program, my assistant coach, William Smith College and my family. We’re all one big team and everyone had a significant hand in this year’s success.”
Having just completed her 10th season with the Herons, Chu has helped William Smith student-athletes earn 14 CRCA All-America awards, 23 CRCA Scholar-Athlete awards, 87 Liberty League All-Academic awards, and two CoSIDA Academic All-America® awards. She and her assistants have been voted the Liberty League Coaching Staff of the Year five times while her student-athletes have garnered five Liberty League Crew of the Year and five Liberty League Novice Crew of the Year awards. (The 2011-12 conference awards will be announced later this month.)
A 1991 graduate of Princeton University, Chu served as an intern coach for the Tigers’ women’s rowing team in 1998-99 before spending three seasons as an assistant coach of women’s rowing at Kansas State.