College of Education and Human Development

Connect Magazine

Alumni profile: a coach is first and foremost an educator

Terry Ganley

Terry Ganley retires as University swimming icon.

In the fall of 1973, Terry Ganley set foot on the University of Minnesota grounds as a freshman. “My home was in North Minneapolis and I took the MTC number five bus to downtown Minneapolis and transferred to the number 16 bus to campus,” she says.

Although the route was somewhat circuitous, once she reached her destination, it was anything but. In fact, she never really left. After graduating in 1979 with a degree in physical education, she took an assistant coaching position on the women’s swimming and diving team. Forty-four years later this spring, she retired as senior associate head coach for the women’s and men’s teams (the programs combined in 2011), making her the longest serving tenured coach, male or female, at the U of M. Her four decades of coaching also earn her the title of the longest serving swimming and diving coach, male or female, in the history of the Big Ten Conference.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Terry was racking up titles way before as a student swimmer. She won the 50-yard backstroke in 1974 and earned her first Big Ten title. Not too long after, she was named All American in the event, which made her the first female to earn All American honors in any sport at the U of M. In 1975, she was named All American in both the 50-yard freestyle and 100-yard individual medley. Her fourth All American title was in the 200-yard freestyle in 1976. The next year saw her take another Big Ten title, this time in the individual medley. She also earned the University of Minnesota Senior Athlete of the Year Award and was the first student athlete to win the University of Minnesota Presidential Outstanding Leadership Award. It is not at all surprising that she was an inaugural member of the U of M Aquatics Hall of Fame in 1984.

As she was busy picking up swimming honors, she also was concentrating on her academics and future goals. “My career plans were fairly vague until my junior year when I changed my major from psychology to physical education,” she says. “I had the desire to teach and coach. Upon completing my degree, the opportunity to coach at the University became available and it was an opportunity for me to continue in the sport I loved and use my skills as an educator and coach.”

Terry has been named a Big Ten Co-Coach of the Year, has won the American Swim Coaches Association Award of Excellence multiple times, and was selected to the Minnesota Swimming Coaches Hall of Fame.

Terry is noted for her coaching style that focuses on the whole person, skills she honed while swimming for—and later working as assistant coach to—the legendary Jean Freeman. She also gives credit to her academic background. “My education in CEHD definitely gave me the basic knowledge and skills I used on a daily basis in my coaching career,” she says. “I truly believe we as coaches are first and foremost educators. I used my skills to understand and incorporate individual needs while streamlining and maintaining team goals and structure.”

When it comes to talking about what makes her the most proud, Terry has a list: that she was a part of so many lives and helped provide an environment of growth during their college career, the memories and friendships that she helped foster, and the advice she was able to give and share.

“I cherish the opportunity I had to be a part of Gopher Athletics for 47 years and it is with great pride I take those memories with me,” she says. “I would just like to thank the University of Minnesota, Gopher Athletics, and each and every individual who crossed my path on the journey of my career. I have been truly blessed. Ski-U-Mah.”

Photos courtesy of Minnesota Athletic Department

-Kevin Moe