KINGS POINT, N.Y. (Oct. 5, 2015) – On Monday, Oct. 5, the United States Merchant Marine Academy learned that a beloved and much admired, long-time member of our USMMA family, former Athletic Director Susan "Sue" Petersen Lubow, has passed away.
“Today is a very sad day for our Academy,” said USMMA Superintendent RADM James A. Helis. “So much of the success of our Department of Physical and Education and Athletics was because of Sue. She was a strong leader with a great vision and she had an unparalleled love for the Academy and our midshipmen. We express our deepest condolences to her family at this time.”
Petersen Lubow, who started her Kings Point career 36 years ago as a physical education instructor, quickly rose through the ranks and earned an appointment as Athletic Director in 1989. This groundbreaking move marked the first time that a female held that position at any of the United States Federal Service Academies. In March 2014, after a very successful 25 years at the helm of the department, she announced that she was stepping down from her position as the Academy’s Head of Physical Education and Athletics, but would remain on staff as a fully tenured professor.
Petersen Lubow was one of the most accomplished administrators in the history of the Academy. Her contributions are immeasurable. In the 25 years she served as Athletic Director, she expanded USMMA Athletics to over 20 teams and helped develop the Blue and Gray Club, Athletic Hall of Fame, Blue and Gray Golf Classics and other numerous traditions and awards.
“Sue was a legend in collegiate athletics, as the first female athletic director of a federal service academy, and she helped pave the way for all future female athletic directors,” said USMMA Athletic Director Mo White. “She was a role model and mentor to so many student-athletes, coaches and staff members and everywhere you turn here at the Academy you can see Sue’s contributions. Sue meant so much to the USMMA community and we will continue to work to build on Sue’s great legacy!”
As an administrator, Petersen Lubow served on a number of committees in the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference (ECAC), a regional conference comprised of 320 Division I, II, and III institutions. Petersen Lubow was appointed as an Executive Board member, the Chair of the Marketing Committee, the Chair of the Swimming and Diving Committee, the Chair of the Finance Committee, and the Chairperson of the ECAC Division III Football Committee, a position also never before held by a woman.
In the fall of 1998, Petersen Lubow was honored by the ECAC as the 1998 Jostens Female Administrator of the Year. She is also the most recent recipient of the ECAC’s Katherine Ley Award for being “a strong proponent of women's issues; a creator of programs and opportunities for women in athletics; an idea person; a role model for women coaches and administrators; a person of demonstrated leadership, one who has the ability to make things happen and the ability to work with others; a person with a sense of what the past has to offer and what the future may bring; a person with a sense of humor that makes good times better and bad times easier to bear.”
Petersen Lubow began working at the Academy in 1979, when she was appointed the head coach position for the both the men’s and women’s swimming & diving teams, making her at the time the first female to be the head coach of a varsity men's team at any service academy. During her time at the helm of the men’s and women’s swimming & diving teams, the two programs combined for a 148-67 record over 11 years. Petersen Lubow coached 48 All-America male and female swimmers and divers, including both a men's and women's NCAA Division III Individual National Champion.
Throughout her coaching and administrative career in swimming & diving, Petersen Lubow had been very involved with both USA Swimming and NCAA Swimming & Diving. She served as the Secretary and Rules Editor for the NCAA Division I, II and III Swimming and Diving Committee. Petersen Lubow also acted as the Head Manager for the 1998 World Swimming Championships, travelling with the USA National Team to Perth, Australia in January, 1998. In October 2004, she was tapped as the head manager for the USA Short Course World Swim Team that hosted the World Championships for the first time in history. Petersen Lubow devoted the summers of 1993-95 to the USA National Swim program, serving as Head and Assistant Manager.
Petersen Lubow, an honorary alumna of the USMMA Alumni Association and Foundation, graduated from Springfield College in 1975. She went on to earn her Master's Degree in Health Education from Hofstra University in 1979. Prior to coaching, Petersen Lubow was a national competitor in AAU age group swimming. She was also an All-American in the 200 individual medley as well as the medley relay (1971-72) at Springfield College, where she also served as the team captain. Petersen Lubow was inducted into Springfield College's Athletic Hall of Fame in 1991 and the New York Metropolitan Swimming Hall of Fame in 2009. She was a two-time New York Open Champion and in 1972 was an Olympic qualifier for trials.
For her contributions to the Academy and Intercollegiate Athletics in general, Petersen Lubow was inducted into the USMMA Athletics Hall of Fame in 2014 and then also the ECAC Hall of Fame (as part of its inaugural class) earlier this year. She is also a member of the Metropolitan Swimming Hall of Fame, having been inducted in 2009.
Petersen Lubow will be remembered for cheering loudly for her team, and her contagious enthusiasm, strength and determination inspired thousands over the years. She was an exemplary athlete, a motivating coach, an outstanding leader, and a young athlete’s biggest fan - especially to her daughter, Sarah.
Reflecting on her career, during her speech at the 2014 Athletics Hall of Fame Induction, Petersen Lubow said, “Maybe I did break through barriers and overcome obstacles to give young girls a chance of following their dreams. I just never looked at myself in that light. I chose my profession because I wanted to make a difference, not because I wanted to be a trailblazer, but in reflection – whether I like it or not – I guess I was.”
A memorial service for Sue Petersen Lubow will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015 at 11 a.m. in the Mariners’ Memorial Chapel at the United States Merchant Marine Academy - 300 Steamboat Road Kings Point, NY 10024.
Please join family and friends to remember her life and achievements. Please arrive at 10:30 a.m. to facilitate parking. Shuttles will be provided to and from exterior lots, if necessary.
A live video recording of the memorial service will also be available on www.USMMASports.com, with the link to be provided by the end of this week.
The family requests, in lieu of flowers, please send contributions to:
First Presbyterian Church,
60 East Main St., Oyster Bay, NY 11771
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, - Pancreatic Cancer Research
Attn: Development Department
1 Bungtown Road, Cold Spring Harbor, NY 11724
Condolence cards and photos may be mailed to:
Ms. Hazel Petersen
c/o First Presbyterian Church of Oyster Bay
60 East Main Street
Oyster Bay, NY 11771
Tributes, Testimonials And Remembrances Of Sue Petersen Lubow
Former USMMA Superintendent VADM Joseph D. Stewart:
“Sue was the most "Acta non Verba" person I've known. She was a fighter who never gave up. Sue accomplished more with really scarce resources at the Academy than I thought possible. Thousands of midshipmen got a better education because of her leadership and her efforts to make Kings Point athletics the very best they could be. Sue had great "class" and I can't imagine the Academy without her.”
ECAC President & CEO Dr. Kevin T. McGinniss:
"Sue was the consummate professional. She always took her job seriously and with extreme passion. Whether as a teacher, coach, or administrator, she gave it her all. She bled Kings Point Blue and always put the best interest of the Academy and its Midshipmen at the forefront. Sue was also a true leader in every sense of the word. She looked out for every person under her purview. As great a professional she was, she was an even greater person. Sue knew, appreciated and never lost sight of the human element. Her family and friends meant the world to her, and she had a keen knack of making everyone feel special. Sue left her positive legacy on everything and everyone she touched. I will forever be thankful for the personal and professional relationship that Sue and I had; and the positive impact she had on me!”
Landmark Conference Commissioner Dan Fisher:
“The Landmark Conference mourns the passing of Sue Petersen Lubow. Over her career in collegiate athletics, Sue deftly balanced the academic priorities of her students with the belief that athletics played an important role in an individual’s development. Sue was integral in the establishment of the Landmark Conference, and her spirit lives on through the founding principles of our conference, principles which she helped shape nearly a decade ago.”
USA Swimming Executive Director Chuck Wielgus:
"This is extremely sad news. I’ve known Sue since she was a star swimmer at Springfield College, when I was a graduate student there. Then, through her active involvement with USA Swimming and in NCAA Swimming, we were able to work together over the years. Sue’s whole life was dedicated to student-athletes and she saw the athlete as a whole person. She understood the balance between athletics and life in general and exhibited that in her own life with the way she dealt with others. We will all miss her dearly.”
USA Swimming National Team Director Frank Busch:
"Sue was a truly remarkable and wonderful person. I’ve known Sue since the early 1990s when we were on the NCAA Swimming Rules Committee together. Sue was able to sit in a room with a variety of coaches – including some Division I coaches with strong personalities – and, through patience and persistence, she was able to work through some of the challenges and finished off everything in a positive way. Sue will be missed, she cared deeply about and was a great ambassador for the sport of swimming. She was dedicated to transforming our sport to make it better. She listened to everybody, not making knee-jerk reactions, and then made decisions for the good of our sport."
USMMA 26th-Year Head Men's Soccer Coach Michael Smolens:
“Sue’s list of accomplishments is endless. It would take days to recite all the improvements which came about at Kings Point and our athletic program because of her. Each of the changes Sue made improved the Kings Point athletic programs and enriched the experiences of midshipmen as student-athletes and alums. She developed a strong Blue and Gray family, and added to it with every person she hired in our department. She took me in as a coach with no college experience and helped me learn the hard work it takes to build a strong program. She wanted things done the right way and made sure all her coaches knew that the bottom line was to help our Midshipmen achieve great things not only at the Academy, but in the future as graduates. Her lessons stay with me every day and the opportunity I have had to touch so many lives here is owed to her work, her belief and all the time and effort she took to building our program here. I am lucky to have gotten to work for so many years with such a tremendous leader and I know so many others feel the same.”