A lifelong interest in sport has taken Susan Kolb from the football grounds in South Somerset County to her current role as Director of Sport at Cowl College in Frederick, Maryland.
Along the way, those experiences as an athlete, coach and administrator have helped the 34-year-old Springs native balance hard work and athletic discipline with bold career moves to forge a successful career in sports administration.
Earlier this month, Kolb was among 50 young professionals from Frederick County, Maryland to be selected as “Frederick’s Top 50 Under 40” by the Frederick County Office of Economic Development. The final 50 were selected from a list of 286 people aged 40 and under who were nominated for their leadership, community service and professional achievements, among other criteria.
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Kolb was nominated by Andrea Chapdelaine, president of Hood College, and Laurie Ward, the college’s vice president of marketing.
“At Hood College, I have everything I want in my career,” Kolb said. “It’s a lot of responsibility, but also a lot of opportunity, not only for me but also for our athletes and staff members. It’s something I’m really proud of and something I never thought I’d do.
“I am grateful to have been considered for a position like this, and hope to be a role model for other women who aspire to enter sports administration or sport in general.”
From student-athlete to coach
As a senior and multi-sport athlete who graduated in 2005 at Salisbury-Elk Lick High School, Kolb was recruited by several post-secondary schools. She chose Davis & Elkins College in West Virginia, where she played football for the Senators in NCAA Division II and earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education.
She thanks her parents, Rudi and Deb Kolb of Springs, and a family line of educators for her interest in sports and education.
“I’m an only child, but I think my parents gave me siblings through (my) sports teams,” Kolb said. “Both my parents are very athletic, so I could ski before I could walk.”
Shortly after graduating from college, she made the first decision that would lead her down a career path into sports administration.
“A friend suggested I look into (a graduate assistant and coaching position,” Kolb said.
She found such a job at Bluffton University in Ohio, where she worked as an assistant coach while studying for a master’s degree in instructional leadership.
“I fell in love with it (coaching),” she said.
While in college, she also played semi-professional soccer with the Charlotte Eaglesa team based in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Sports Administration Career
Kolb then accepted a position as head football coach and assistant athletic director at Eastern Mennonite University, a Division III school in Harrisonburg, Virginia. After three years with the Royals, she accepted a position as Academic Coordinator at George Mason Universitya Division I program in Fairfax, Virginia.
“I had coached in Division III and played in Division II, so I decided to move to Division I,” she said.
The fast-paced, urban atmosphere of the Washington, D.C. metro area, however, did not sit well with him. So Kolb said she “took her biggest risk” and moved to Spartanburg, South Carolina, to work at the University of South Carolina Upstateanother Division I program.
She worked there for four years as an educational advisor to student-athletes. His responsibilities included a variety of NCAA-related and academic duties, as well as overseeing athletic department fundraising and budgeting.
She also completed her doctoral thesis at North Central University meanwhile, obtaining a doctorate. in sports administration in March 2018.
Small town values
According to Kolb, learning to manage schedules and balance responsibilities started early in his life.
“Growing up playing sports in Somerset County taught me about hard work,” Kolb said.
“My parents taught me to work hard. We worked hard as a family to do what we had to do, but we also had fun. My parents hardly ever missed a game of mine – I always had that support I take that ‘small town sense’ and those small town values into my career.”
Mentoring of student-athletes
Kolb became athletic director at Cowl College in July 2018. Since then, she has increased the number of Division III college student-athletes from 275 to 415, added men’s volleyball and esports to the sports program, and increased fundraising events and student-athlete programming, among other accomplishments.
“What I enjoy most (about the job) is helping to impact student-athletes at Hood College,” she said. “Improving their academic, athletic and personal experience. That’s what brings me joy, when I can see things I’ve been involved in that have changed their experience for the better.
Community service is also an important part of the student-athlete experience at Hood College, Kolb said. Their student-athletes and athletic staff are required to complete 20 hours of community service each year.
Personally, Kolb is on the planning committee for the Patty Hurwitz Foundation, which raises funds to provide early detection and local treatment options for breast cancer patients in the Frederick area. She also participated in mission trips organized by her home church, the Salisbury United Church of Christ, while at university.
“Giving back and helping people has always been a passion of mine,” she said. “Whenever good things happen to you, it’s selfish not to share them. Giving back and paying it forward is what I’m supposed to do.
“So many people have been good to me over my career (that) I have to pay it forward. I have a lot of touchpoints (in his position at Hood College) and it would be a mistake not to model the opportunity to pay it forward.
In accepting her “Frederick’s Top 50 Under 40” award, Kolb said she sometimes worried that her age — and being a woman — would limit her career options in sports administration.
“Age has been something that has come up many times in my career,” she said. “It often starts with colleagues in this field noting, ‘You’re awfully young to be (a college coach, athletic director, etc.)’. I’ve never been offended by these statements, and rather, I took them as a compliment.
“My sports career has prepared me with a strong work ethic, discipline and perseverance which has allowed me to be considered for a career in sports administration. also gave exceptional mentors who encouraged and supported me to continue to take risks in a career that is not for the weak.
This article originally appeared on The Daily American: Susan Kolb, former Somerset County student-athlete in Frederick, Maryland