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On July 15, Terri Steeb Gronau started her new role as Vice President of Division II after spending most of her 13-year career at the NCAA working with that division. NCAA.org sat down with Gronau to discuss her vision for the future of Division II.
Why are you so excited about this appointment?
Terri Steeb Gronau: I think I’m really excited about what the future holds for Division II. I’ve been working at the NCAA for 13 years, and a good portion of those years have been working within the Division II structure. I remember when I interviewed for the director position over eight-and-a-half years ago and people asked me sort of the same question: Why Division II? Why Now? And I remember my answer being, Division II is capable of doing some amazing things, and I want to be a part of it. That still holds true. Division II is still capable of doing some great and amazing things, and now I get an opportunity to lead that with the staff here at the national office as well as the leadership and our vision across all campuses. So, exciting times to come for Division II and I’m happy to be a part of it, excited to be a part of it, and excited to lead us into the future.
What makes Division II so unique and what makes you excited about where it can go from here?
TSG: Division II, I think it’s unique because our schools are sort of situated in interesting communities. Smaller communities, and people really embrace the schools. And so the opportunity for our schools to reach out into our communities is something that we’ve been working on, but it’s something that we’re really going to focus on going forward. We’ve done a lot in Division II as it relates to our identity and our brand and there’s a lot of pride by our Division II members and their affiliation with Division II. We now have to figure out how to take a lot of that internal, sort of, pride, and how do we share that more externally with the public, the communities that our schools are in, with parents, with prospective student-athletes, and I think it’s an opportunity for Division II to really make its mark with Division II communities and the communities that surround our schools.
You just said you’ve been with Division II most of the time with the NCAA, where you started as an intern and worked your way up to Vice President. Throughout your time in Division II, what did you like most about working with that group?
TSG: The best thing about Division II is the people. Not only the people here at the national office — the ones that work day in and day out to serve our Division II membership — but the Division II family across this country. Those people are so passionate. They work so tirelessly for our student-athletes. They’re doing multiple jobs, multiple tasks. And they do it because they love it. And I think above all else, working in Division II is fun. We embrace innovation. We embrace change. We like to try new things. That’s true here at the national office, and it’s also true within our membership. So, college athletics is supposed to be fun. I mean, it’s about the student-athlete experience, and I think in Division II we really try to make things fun and about family.
You know many people in membership. You know many people in the national office. What’s something they don’t know about you?
TSG: I think one thing people don’t know about me is I’m actually a pretty good cook. I really enjoy cooking. Early on in my career I had an opportunity to travel quite a bit across the country, so we would go out to dinners and so forth and I’d be like, ‘Well, I can make that. I can go home and make that.” And so I just started early on sort of making stuff that I would try in a restaurant. And then I love swapping recipes with people and trying new things. And so I consider myself to be a pretty good cook, and I love to entertain and have people over at my home and serve them a meal.
You were a volleyball student-athlete at Alabama-Birmingham. Tell us how that experience shaped your life after college, and really shaped your vision for leadership as you go into this role as Vice President.
TSG: It even started back in high school when I was a volleyball player as a high school here local. I remember a time when it was sort of the semistate finals, and the ball was coming at me, and I should’ve played it, and I didn’t because I thought it was going out. And I always remember that moment because it was such a moment of disappointment. Disappointment in myself. Disappointment in kind of letting down my team. And I always told myself, I’m not going to disappoint anybody again. I’m not going to disappoint my team. I’m not going to disappoint myself.
And so I think that really drove me to what I was in college as a student-athlete in, just sort of took on so many things outside of just being a volleyball student-athlete. I was president of my SAAC. Worked on the certification process when UAB was going through that process, saw an opportunity to work with lots of people on campus. And I think that really made me want to stay involved in college athletics because of the type of experience I received was the type of experience I want to ensure student-athletes across this country have the opportunity to have.
From all the times I was a student-athlete to going and getting my master’s in sports administration until the time that I’m here, the one thing I try to do is mentor those around me, because that was an important part of my experience. I truly believe in the mentor-mentee relationship. I’ve obviously experienced disappointment – you always do that. As a student-athlete you’re not going to win them all. So you sort of learn how to win and lose. But you know how to be part of a bigger group to accomplish a larger goal.
And that’s the one thing I’ve learned the most about being a leader is, it’s not about you. It’s about the group that you work with and ultimately accomplishing the goal at the end of the day. And that’s the most important thing I’ve learned about being a student-athlete.Last Updated: Jul 17, 2013