Coaching change strengthens senior's leadership
For Rutgers swimming and diving team captain Jen Betz, leadership is a little bit of both brain and brawn.
Betz certainly has the muscle to back up anything she says as captain, routinely setting the bar for the rest of the diving team. Betz, the Scarlet Knights' only senior, tries to let her talents in the pool do the talking, but she is not afraid to reach out to a teammate when needed.
"It's an honor to be a captain of this team," Betz said. "We have such a close group of girls that work together so well. Being a captain, I try to lead by example and work hard every day and also communicate any issues on our team between coaches and athletes."
One of the keys to the Knights' success — this season and in the future — will be how Betz can aid in the development of the team's younger athletes. But that should not be a problem as she has been coaching divers since she was a freshman in high school.
Betz loves watching improvement in the sport, no matter if it is from her teammates or the young children she coaches.
Before coming to Rutgers, Betz was the MVP of her high school diving team all four years. She also won league championships during the same timeframe and was a district champion as a senior. Penn State heavily recruited the Ivyland, Pa., native, but she felt more at home on the Banks.
Betz could not have asked for a better start to the 2010 season.
In the Sonny Werblin Invitational at the RU Aquatic Center, she set the school record in the three-meter dive previously held by Erin Saunders. Betz registered a record score of 313.80 over six dives, beating Saunders' previous record of 312.07.
"I was shocked when I heard my total at the end of the meet," Betz said. "I had no idea that I was even close to the record. But it's incredible to break one of Erin's records — she was an amazing diver and athlete."
Betz also placed first in the three-meter dive at last weekend's Big East Quad meet against Connecticut, Georgetown and Villanova. While Betz wasn't able to match her record score, her 269.60 was enough for a first-place finish.
The fact that Betz was able to have continued success in what has become her signature event is a good sign for the Knights' future.
"For the divers, consistency is our main focus," she said. "I think we are all training very well and we have a very positive outlook on the rest of our season."
A switch from rule with an iron fist toward a more personable coaching style can be what makes a senior season truly special. A change in philosophy can sometimes be just what the doctor ordered, even for a veteran like Betz.
"I feel like I am on a completely different team, and I'm loving every minute of it," Betz said. "The motivation and excitement from the coaches and athletes is something we've never had before."