The end of a remarkable coaching era in the state of Utah has come.
Betsy Specketer, the longtime head coach of the Salt Lake Community College women's basketball program, announced her retirement as the program's leader on Monday, ending a 25-year tenure at the institution. Specketer compiled a 545-196 overall record in a 23-year run as the head coach of the Bruins.
After a 25-6 season in 2018-19 that featured a sixth-consecutive trip to the NJCAA National Tournament, Specketer said she came to the decision that it was time to end the coaching chapter of her life.
"I've actually been thinking about it for a little while now," said Specketer. "It's definitely not something that was decided in haste. My experience at SLCC has been nothing but positive but there comes a time when maybe you'd like to do some different things."
Specketer had 18 20-win seasons while leading the Bruins, taking them as far the NJCAA Final Four in the 2017 national tourney. Along the way, she won 10 Scenic West regular-season titles and 5 Region 18 tournament titles. SLCC played in the Region 18 championship game a remarkable 15 times during her tenure.
"I'm sorry to lose Coach Specketer but am happy for her personally as she moves on to her next chapter," she said. "Coach Specketer has been an unbelievable leader, not just at SLCC but throughout the region and nation. She has a gift as a coach to bring out the best in her players and motivate them to play hard but more importantly to lead and act with integrity. I love watching her passion on the court; she will be missed!"
In a state that has featured so many remarkable basketball coaching tenures, Specketer will retire as the second-most winningest coach in women's college basketball history in the state, sitting behind only former University of Utah women's coach Elaine Elliott.
Dr. Charles Lepper, Salt Lake Community College's Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, said Specketer has been a valuable asset that has represented the Bruins with grace and dignity.
"Coach Betsy Specketer is a one-of-kind person and professional," he said. "(Specketer) has been a positive force and left a positive impact on the sport of women's basketball, Salt Lake Community College, and the countless lives of student-athletes. It has been my privilege and honor to work with you her. We will miss her as an outstanding coach, friend, colleague, and mentor but look forward to seeing her in the stands continuing to cheer on the SLCC Bruins. We owe our women's basketball team's success to her and her outstanding coaching staff and players."
A native of Havana, Ill., Specketer played college basketball and softball at Illinois State University, later earning a master's degree in Sports Administration from the institution. She began at Salt Lake as an assistant to former Bruins coach Monica Sherratt for the 1994-95 season.
Along the way, Specketer coached 18 NJCAA All-Americans, 9 Region 18 Most-Valuable-Players, and was named the Region 18 Coach-of-the-Year 10 times. She guided Salt Lake to its first appearance to the NJCAA National Tournament in 2005.
Kevin Dustin, SLCC's Director of Athletics and Recreation, said Specketer has brought a student-athlete focus to her daily work in the department.
"This is a historic moment in our program's history and our SLCC women's basketball program has been blessed to have such terrific leadership for over 25 years," he said. "While we tend to overuse the word "legend" in this business, legend perfectly fits Coach Specketer. She was born to coach and influence young people. She is a role model to so many. She is an advocate for women and is a leader in our department. She has advised me and mentored me and is universally respected at the college and in the profession. I will miss her and am happy she has agreed to stay on for a few weeks to assist in the transition."
Specketer had over 70 players advance to continue their student-athletes careers at four-year institutions, with many more becoming graduates and community leaders. SLCC assistant coach Marci Grayer started her collegiate career playing for Specketer.
Grayer said her career is a direct result of Specketer's focus on student-athlete development.
"(Coach Specketer) has played such a vital role in my development as not only a coach but a woman," said Grayer, who has worked with Specketer since the 2013-14 season. "I've learned valuable life lessons from being around one of the best coaches in the business. With her tough love there has come compassion, responsibility, honor, hard work, dedication and acceptance. I'm blessed to have had the opportunity to be mentored by one of my best friends and someone who will always be a legend in my eyes."
The student-athlete success was the highlight of the job, according to Specketer.
"(Working with student-athletes has) been one of the best parts of the job and there are a lot of them out there after 25 years," she said. "No matter where their individual paths have taken them, our alumni share that one common bond as a former Bruin. And from what I can gather, a lot of pride goes with that."
Now, after so many years of recruiting, bus rides, hotel stays and team meals, Specketer maintained she is ready for a change of pace in her lifestyle.
"I'm actually looking forward to being more active – doing all the things that I really enjoy doing," she said. "I've always been one to exercise and workout, and I look forward to doing that more consistently. Plus, I'll get to enjoy more biking, hiking, camping, pickleball, racquetball, basketball, softball, all of it. I also look forward to getting home to Illinois more often to catch up with friends and especially, see my family more."
As her tenure ends, Specketer said she wants all the program's supporters to understand her gratitude towards them.
"My time at Salt Lake Community College has been nothing but positive and I've loved every minute," she said. "Thank you to all the many people who made my stay so enjoyable and successful. Thank you to the SLCC administration for your unwavering support and leadership. To my Bruin colleagues, we've shared so much more than just a hallway of offices; you are so loved and I will cherish our friendships forever.
"To those who I've shared the sidelines with, both the Bruins side and the opposing side, thank you for making me better and for bringing out the best in me. And lastly, to the many players that I have been blessed to coach, thank you for the sacrifices you made to help build this program. It all went by so fast, but the memories are etched in my heart forever."
Marcilina Grayer, who has served as an assistant coach for the past six years, has been named the Interim Head Women's Basketball coach while the school completes its transition plan.
Story by, Jon Oglesby, Media Relations Consultant