Florida State Coach Sue Semrau on the Her Hoop Stats Podcast

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This week on the Her Hoop Stats podcast, John Liddle talked with Florida State head coach Sue Semrau about being a leader, talking to her team about racism, her coaching philosophy and more. 

Read the highlights from the interview below and listen to the entire episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Episode Highlights

On leadership in times of crisis:

When we look at the events that have occurred in the last [three weeks] and George Floyd, his death highlighting it all, being a leader is somebody that, in my opinion, is going to deal with the moment and create conversations around the moment. That’s what I’ve tried to do. I can’t look in to say, “Here’s going to be our goal.” Gosh, we’ve been talking about years and years and years and years of oppression, so that’s a hard thing to say. You can’t look into a crystal ball and see what’s happening with COVID. It’s really just being our best in the moment and building relationships, too. I think that’s a leader’s job because through these times, if our relationships become stronger, we become stronger.

On talking to her team about racial injustice in America:

We had had a Zoom call scheduled, and so I was able to, on that day, communicate with them. It was a Zoom call where we were going to talk about return to play and where we were with COVID, but certainly we started off with something that’s much more important than COVID. I talked about the emotions that I was having, but as a white woman, I couldn’t even imagine what the emotions were of our women of color and asked them if they would feel comfortable enough to share them. They were tremendous in their vulnerability [and] their willingness to open up to educate a lot of us on situations that they’ve had where they’ve experienced racism and why this is such an important time for them. We’ve been having these talks for years now. This isn't new. This is something that we’ve had before and then it scabs over. The wound scabs over. It’s time that this became a daily conversation.

On continuing the conversation after the news cycle ends:

I think that it probably scabs over for those of us that are white. I don’t know that it ever really scabs over for people of color. To think about that now is just heartbreaking. I think it’s important — one of my players texted me today about having the conversations and appreciating that. My response is, “Please, hold me accountable on a daily basis.” We’ve got to continue to have these conversations. What can we do? It’s like a barge that’s out on the ocean right now. It’s not a motorboat. It’s not going to turn a quick turn and go back the other direction. It’s a barge that takes time and energy and force to turn and it’s going to take a while. I don’t know that we can do a whole lot. I think we’re America and we want things quick and easy, but it’s not going to be quick and easy. It’s going to be education. It’s going to be voting. It’s going to be continuing to talk to the younger generation. There’s a lot of people that are set in their ways. I don’t know that it can change in our lifetime, but I sure hope that we can make a direction, make a turn, try to make a difference in this time and in this place.

On her advice for a young coach trying to have these conversations with their players:

I believe, personally, that players will not care how much I know until they know how much I care. If you were to ask me my philosophy of coaching, that’s it. I need to know them. I need to understand them just to be able to coach them individually. They are so different. They have different backgrounds. They have different ways of learning. I would start with: Build relationships. Take the time. It’s vital. You can’t really talk with somebody you don’t trust unless you know [them]. I think that’s part of the world. As humans, we just long to know and to be known. We don’t take the time to do it enough, I don’t think, anymore because of the ease of quick communication, a text message or a Snapchat. We have to have face-to-face conversations.


This week on the Her Hoop Stats Unplugged podcast, Megan Gauer and Aaron Barzilai will be taking your questions! Please leave any questions you would like them to answer about the WNBA restart plan, women’s college basketball, or anything else on your mind in the comments below or mention us on Twitter. We’ll record the episode this evening (Thursday), so make sure to get your questions in as soon as you can!

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Thanks for reading the Her Hoop Stats Newsletter. If you like our work, be sure to check out our stats site, our podcast, and our social media accounts on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram. You can also buy Her Hoop Stats gear, such as laptop stickers, mugs, and shirts!