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					                                   Name: Susan Kemper

                                   Sport: Synchronized Swimming

                                   Current Coaching Position:
                                   Coaching consultant; former National A Team Head Coach

                                   CAC Program Involvement:
                                   National Coaching Institute Graduate


“ … the NCI gave me the ability to figure out how I can be better.” — Susan Kemper

"Susan is a very creative coach and she uses that creativity to explore new ideas and concepts. Her focus is always
on bringing out the best in her athletes. Susan is committed to doing whatever is needed to be more effective at
leading her team." — Gail Donohue, former Director, National Coaching Institute–BC (Vancouver)

Susan Kemper's desire to coach was spurred by the example of her own coach, Biz Price, a former national coach
now Britain's national performance director. Even starting off on the wrong foot in her first job failed to dissuade
the former national team member. Her approach then was to draw on her experience as an athlete. The result was
“a nightmare scenario. I learned the hard way not to coach youngsters the way a high performance athlete is
coached. I got a reputation for being a hard coach and that reputation has followed me even today, but it was a
great life lesson.”

Coach education through the National Coaching Certification Program quickly opened Susan's eyes and she was
well prepared when the BC Aquasonics High Performance Training Centre had an opening for a junior coach. “By
this time I had Level 3 and was committed to coaching. Right from the start it felt good in my skin and also I got
success very early. I remain a very competitive person and for me to give the best to my athletes, I had to be the
best on deck.”

For a number of years, Susan remained at Level 3, concentrating on coaching, marriage, and motherhood. Finally,
in 2004, she realized that it was time to enrol in the NCI, a commitment she undertook with some trepidation but
now describes as the best thing she ever did. “The NCI taught me a lot about myself and removed the blinders I
had developed from coaching synchro for so long. The NCI was an absolutely amazing experience and so I decided
to complete Level 5 because I was just loving it.”

As her coaching successes piled up, Susan launched Raedyn Choreography and Consulting Ltd., to handle her
multiple contracts, which included international assignments as assistant coach of the Netherlands and head coach
of Malaysia, and domestic positions as head coach of the BC Aquasonics, the PacificSport Aquasonics Synchronized
Swim Club, and the National B team.

Susan's life took a dramatic turn in September 2007 when Synchro Canada asked her to become head coach of the
National A team, charged with moulding 14 Olympic hopefuls into Canada's team with less than a year to go before
the Beijing Games. Accepting the challenge necessitated a move to the Aquatic Centre of Excellence in Montreal,
temporarily leaving behind her husband, Kirk, and her seven-year-old daughter, Sydni. “I wanted to be an Olympic
coach; I wished for it; it has always been my dream. I didn't expect it so soon, but it's a real gift.”

Together, Susan and her family made the decision to accept the offer, knowing that life would become a difficult
juggling act. “We weighed the pros and cons about where we want to be in the long term, but not a day goes by
without us asking if we made the right decision. We're taking it day by day.”

Once into the job, Susan set to work to put her own stamp on the aquatic centre program and, at the same time,
build a cohesive unit of her assistant coaches, Denise Sauvé and Nathalie Lagrange, and their young but highly
talented athletes. Such were the demands of the position that she found little time for reflection. “My life has been
a whirlwind and I haven't had time to consider my own personal improvement, which is important to me. That will
come; the NCI gave me the ability to figure out how I can be better.”
Susan is confident that the athletes can improve Canada's current sixth-place world ranking. “Absolutely Canada
can move up, but that will only happen if they believe it. Synchro Canada is aiming for the bronze medal and for
that to happen, the athletes have to believe it's possible.”

In January 2008, following a two-week break from the National Training Centre, Susan resigned as the Olympic
Team head coach. “The break allowed me time enough to reflect on 'the coach' within, as I did multiple times
within the NCI program. Resigning was an incredibly difficult decision for me and my family. However, it is the best
thing I have done as a professional coach to date. First-class coaching is about producing first-class human beings;
this is my strength as a coach. In order to achieve this, I need to surround myself with a positive atmosphere and
feel it from within before I can produce it in others. I am back in B.C. to reclaim my strength and am extremely
proud of myself for recognizing that it disappeared.”

Susan continues to consult through her company. She loves to coach, but has also given considerable thought to
her career objectives. “It was for our long-term goals that we decided to take this leap of faith and separate the
family. I intend to share my knowledge and experience by consulting other sports and multi-sport organizations.
That is what I would really like to do one day.”

Susan insists that her success would not be possible without her supportive husband. “Kirk has put his life and his
career on hold so that I can live out my dream. Within the decision to resign, he was my biggest pillar of support
and has continuously demonstrated to me that no matter what, he will always be my biggest fan. I also owe a
great deal to my NCI mentor coach, Leslie Sproule, and my NCI director, Gail Donohue, for their continuous
support and unlocked guidance; I also thank Synchro BC for believing in me.”

Profile by Sheila Robertson


                                       Coaching Association of Canada
                                       141 Laurier Avenue West, Suite 300
                                       Ottawa, Ontario K1P 5J3
                                       Telephone: 613-235-5000
                                       Fax: 613-235-9500
                                       coach@coach.ca

				
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posted:8/18/2011
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