After 18 years guiding the William Smith rowing team, Head Coach Sandra Chu recently announced her retirement.
“I am thankful for Sandra’s leadership with our Heron rowing team, in our department and on-campus,” says Associate Vice President and Director of Athletics and Recreation Deb Steward. “She empowered hundreds of William Smith women to pursue their passions and modeled that through her own pursuits. An exceptional communicator, Sandra challenged all of us to grow outside our comfort zone and to build our self-awareness.”
Chu’s teams have enjoyed great success on the water and in the classroom. She has mentored 26 CRCA All-Americans, including 13 first team selections, while guiding William Smith to six NCAA Championship bids as a team and two as an at-large eight. Academically, Chu’s Herons have earned 174 Liberty League All-Academic awards, 68 CRCA Scholar Athlete awards and three CoSIDA Academic All-America® awards.
Since 2004, the Herons have garnered the Liberty League Crew of the Year award eight times and the Liberty League Novice Crew of the Year nine times, while Chu and her assistants have been selected the conference’s Coaching Staff of the Year eight times. Additionally, Chu was voted the ECAC Women’s Coach of the Year by her peers following the 2012 ECAC NIRC. She was named the 2012 CRCA Division III Coach of the Year, guiding the Herons’ varsity eight to a bronze medal at the NCAA Division III Rowing Championship. William Smith also won a bronze medal in the V8 at the 2013 NCAA Championship.
In addition to the team’s success at the conference and national level, the Herons have earned 24 medals, including nine golds at the New York State Championships, under Chu’s watchful eye.
Widely respected in the rowing community, Chu is a former member of the CRCA Board of Directors, the NCAA Regional Advisory Committee and the NCAA Division III Championship Committee. A graduate of the NCAA Women Coaches’ Academy, she also travels the country, teaching a coxing clinic called “Chu on This: We Make Coxswains Faster,” a comprehensive seminar geared for all levels of coxswains.
An active member of the campus community, Chu served on numerous committees, including the Committee on Athletics, the Middle States Accreditation Committee, and the Culture of Respect Committee. A dedicated educator, she served as an instructor for the HWS Leadership Institute and was a DISC® facilitator where she specialized in athlete assessment.
Chu is also active in the Geneva community. She initiated the Row for Community fundraising initiative that provides grant money to area organizations. In addition, Chu is the founder and executive director for Geneva Robotics.