CMU Director of Social Work is inducted into Albion College Hall of Fame
Susan Grettenberger, Ph.D., was inducted into Albion College’s Athletic Hall of Fame in celebration of Title IX’s 50th anniversary
Susan Grettenberger, Ph.D., Director of Social Work at CMU, was inducted into the Albion College Sports Hall of Fame on October 7, 2022. Grettenberger, who keynoted the Hall of Fame dinner, played basketball and softball while attending Albion College for her undergraduate degree. She was selected as part of an all-women Hall of Fame class for the 50th anniversary of Title IX.
Since Grettenberger began playing sports in school so soon after the passing of Title IX, there were very few established women’s teams, and very little equity between the men’s and women’s teams. “I had coaches who had never played the sports,” says Grettenberger, “they never had the opportunity before us.” But in the start, “people would look at women and say ‘look, they’re not even good at sports’ but we had never had the chance to play before,” said Grettenberger, describing the struggles for women in sports during those early Title IX years. Further, the teams themselves weren’t treated fairly. Grettenberger recalls having to advocate for things like practice times or receiving shoes like the male teams got. “We knew there was not equity, and we were just kids. We were just starting college,” said Grettenberger.
Grettenberger also helped start the women’s softball team. After advocating for it throughout her first three years, the team was started her senior year.
Grettenberger finds that the lessons she learned from sports apply to academics too. She asks students if they participated in sports, theater, or music, and reminds them that tenacity is key not only for performances such as those but for academics as well. She sees women athletes as having “learned that they have a right… to push back and take up space.” She suggested that “not everyone wanted women to learn that they didn’t have to be quiet. If they wanted to be in that spot and someone else wanted to be there, they’re allowed to fight for that space,” something that Grettenberger says she learned from basketball and carries over into her daily life.
Grettenberger believes that when it comes to the classroom, engagement with athletics allows students to develop a willingness to do what is needed to learn. Her experiences with athletics gave her a willingness to embrace the discomfort of being bad at something in the start. Grettenberger often tells her students that “learning is hard and not always comfortable until you start to master things,” as she strives to cultivate students’ willingness to follow through on their goals even when they are difficult, or it seems like things are stacked against them.
“I think the women inducted, including me… it’s not about us. It’s about women achieving, and being permitted space, and fighting for the right to show what we can do,” said Grettenberger. “We as a whole class of inductees are a symbol of what people, especially women, can do when given an opportunity.” Grettenberger adds, “There’s been so much progress, but there is still not equity for women in sports or in society at large.”