IX AT 50: Clay Center’s Fritz winningest volleyball coach in K-State history

Published: Dec. 23, 2021 at 11:38 PM CST
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June 23, 1972, President Nixon signed Title IX into law, prohibiting sex discrimination in educational institutions that receive federal funding. Title IX has largely been considered the springboard for high school and collegiate women’s sports to get where they are today — but the fight for equality is far from over. Every Thursday night at 10:00 p.m. leading up to the 50th anniversary of the law’s passing, 13 Sports will honor the women who changed the game for girls’ and women’s sports in Kansas.

“IX at 50: The Trailblazers of Women’s Sports in Kansas”

MANHATTAN, Kan. (WIBW) - Clay Center’s Suzie Fritz committed to play volleyball at Barton Community College in April of her senior year.

The rest, she says, is history.

“A lot of times it’s one little decision, and all of a sudden it changes the course of your life,” she said.

That took her to Louisiana Monroe, then Florida Atlantic. Fritz served as an assistant for the Owls the year after graduating.

“I wanted to at least explore whether I had the potential, the ability to be a college coach,” she said.

She then went back to Barton, before landing as an assistant at Kansas State in 1997.

Fritz took over as head coach in 2001.

“The biggest joy of coaching doesn’t have anything to do with volleyball,” she said. “It having them come at 18 at a time in their life when there’s a lot going on and helping, you hope, have some small part through sport to be able to guide where their life goes from there — help them stay down a path that helps lead to where they wanna go, whatever that means for their life.”

With 363 wins, 16 NCAA Tournament appearances and a Big 12 title, Fritz is the winningest volleyball coach in K-State history.

“This is my dream job, and I’ve been able to do it for a very long time,” she said.

Nationally, just one in five of all college coaching positions are held by women.

Less than half of NCAA women’s teams have female head coaches.

Of the 36 Division I head coaches in Kansas, just seven are women.

“We have to be pretty intentional about providing women the opportunities that they need to be ready for those jobs when they get there,” Fritz said. “The opportunity to be an assistant, to be around other capable women who have done the job. I think being able to provide those opportunities, it’s important.”

Women’s volleyball, Fritz says, has grown dramatically since her playing career.

“There’s so many clubs and so many opportunities for women to play and girls to play,” she said. “That opportunity creates greater competitiveness, which creates a better athlete, and so on and so forth. The level that girls and women are playing at now in comparison to 10 years ago, 15 years ago, 20 years ago, it’s pretty amazing. And it’ll be interesting to see 10, 15 years from now where it goes.”

While she’s proud of the progress, she hopes the growth continues.

“Where I’d like to see it go is opportunities for women to continue to prosper in sport long after their playing careers are over,” she said. “Broadcasting, coaching roles, officiating, television. I’d like to really see women being highlighted in television and see it grow. The more you put volleyball specific in front of people, the more they love it.”

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