After 12 seasons at the helm of the Kansas State volleyball program, Suzie Fritz has established herself as not only one of the most successful coaches in K-State history, but also the nation. Fritz has led the Wildcats to nine NCAA Tournament appearances as head coach, 13 dating back to her days as an assistant coach, the school's first-ever conference title in 2003 and three NCAA Regional Semifinal appearances. She is the winningest coach in K-State history compiling a 238-136 (.636) mark in 12 years. In 16 seasons total on staff, Fritz has seen 11 All-Americans, 16 All-District performers and 40 all-conference players come play as Wildcats.
Since taking over the program, Fritz has taken the Wildcats to new heights. She has no doubt earned the respect of her peers and established herself as one of the leaders in her field.
"Suzie is one of the great coaches in our country," said Carl McGown of GoldMedalSquared.com. "What she has accomplished at K-State is remarkable, but not surprising when you know how talented and devoted she is. She understands how to teach, she is creative and she is great with her team."
In 2011 and 2012, Kaitlynn Pelger earned AVCA All-America honorable mention and was named to the 2011 Volleyball Magazine All-America third team, to become the 10th All-American in program history and sixth with Fritz leading the team.
The Wildcats returned to the NCAA Tournament in 2011 with the leadership of Fritz and the All-Big 12 performances of Pelger and Lilla Porubek. K-State defeated its former Big 12 Conference rival Nebraska in the second round to advance to the Regional Semifinals. The victory was the first time the Huskers had lost an NCAA Tournament match at home in the first two rounds of the tournament and ended a 16-year streak of reaching the Regional Semifinals for Nebraska. K-State returned to the NCAA Tournament again in 2012 after the Wildcats went 21-8 in the regular season. The season started off hot with K-State opening the year 12-0 and defeating No. 20 Dayton and No. 10 Minnesota at the Golden Hurricane Classic hosted by Tulsa. K-State also had a win over No. 22 Iowa State. During nonconference play, the Wildcats were dominant winning 11 matches by a score of 3-0. The Wildcats even broke the school record for consecutive sets won when they won 23 straight sets. The streak started with the fourth set against Oregon State on August 25 and lasted eight matches until K-State dropped the first set against Minnesota on September 14.
In just her first year at the helm, Fritz led the Wildcats to the second round of the NCAA Tournament and a 20-8 record. It was the highest winning percentage in school history by a first-year coach at .714.
That season Liz Wegner became the first player in Kansas State history to be named to an All-American team twice in her career, as she was named an honorable mention All-American by Volleyball Magazine. Wegner joined fellow senior Lisa Mimick on the 2001 All-Big 12 first team.
Fritz also served as a keynote speaker at the AVCA National Convention in 2008 presenting on various aspects of the game. Following the 2005 season, Fritz was appointed to the 2006 USA Women's National Volleyball A2 Team.
Fritz was again selected to the staff for the A2 program in 2009, this time as a head coach and took the team to a third-place finish at the USA Adult Open Volleyball Championship. Her coaching and national reputation as an ambassador for the game has garnered praise from the USA Women's National Team coach Hugh McCutcheon as well.
"Suzie is a wonderful coach," McCutcheon said. "She knows the game and she knows how to teach it."
Fritz coached her fifth All-American as a head coach when Nataly Korobkova received third team honors from AVCA in 2007 and 2008. Korobkova stormed onto the scene with 498 kills in her first year as a Wildcat. She earned Big 12 Newcomer of the Year to go with her first team All-Big 12 selection and was named first team AVCA All-Region VI. She repeated her achievement as a third team All-America selection again in 2008 to become the school's second two-time All-American.
The 2007 squad also reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament - the sixth tournament appearance by the Wildcats in Fritz's first seven seasons. Three other players received recognition from the conference coaches along with Korobkova. Angie Lastra was named Libero of the Year and honorable mention All-Big 12 along with Stacey Spiegelberg and Megan Farr. In 2008, the team reached the NCAA Tournament and had three players earn All-Big 12 honors.
Following her debut season, Fritz again took the team to the NCAA Tournament to begin a streak that would reach five consecutive under her leadership and 10 total dating back to 1996.
In 2002 three Wildcats made first team All-Big 12, marking the fifth year in a row - all under Fritz's tenure - that the program placed two players on the league's first team. The 2002 squad gained valuable experience with a number of players returning the next year for the most successful season in school history.
Fritz led the Wildcats to their first conference championship in school history in just her third year as head coach, posted a 30-5 record and was a perfect 18-0 at home in Ahearn Field House. After losing their first two matches of the season, the Wildcats went on winning streaks of 12 and 16 matches en route to the conference title. Kansas State took both matches from conference power Nebraska, including just the program's second win on the road against the Cornhuskers.
Lauren Goehring and Gabby Guerre were both named All-Americans for their contributions to the season with Goehring earning first team honors and Guerre received an honorable mention. Goehring also was the school's first conference player of the year. The Wildcats had three players on the All-Big 12 first team with an additional two as honorable mention.
The direction of the program continued rising in Fritz's fourth year with another trip to the NCAA Tournament and, in 2004 K-State again reached 20 wins and the NCAA Tournament as the Wildcats finished 20-11 and advanced to the second round of the tournament before falling to national power Southern Cal.
In 2005, the team reached 20 wins for the seventh consecutive season with a 21-11 overall record and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the eighth consecutive season. K-State opened the campaign with just the second 8-0 start in school history and first since the 1988 season. The Wildcats broke single-season school records for team total blocks (354.5) and team block assists (621). The squad was also successful in the classroom as K-State put eight Wildcats on the first and second teams of the Academic All-Big 12 teams.
The dominance at the net by the Wildcats would become a trend under Fritz's leadership. After setting the blocks record in 2005, K-State would post the second-best total blocks mark the following season and raise the bar again in 2007. The top five team performances for total block assists have all come within the last nine years.
The Wildcats have averaged a fourth-place finish in the powerful Big 12 Conference under Fritz, but in the off-year of 2006 finished 10th. Not counting that season, the Wildcats are one of the top three programs in the conference over that time span.
Success for the Wildcats has come more than just on the court under Fritz as she and her players have taken the term student-athlete to heart. The Wildcats have established themselves as one of the top performing teams in the classroom in the nation. In 2008, K-State led the conference in first team Academic All-Big 12 honorees for the fourth consecutive year. The team also earned its seventh straight AVCA Team Academic Award in 2007 to receive the recognition each of the first seven years under Fritz. The award is given to teams maintaining a cumulative 3.30 GPA or higher on a 4.0 scale. It was one of the longest streaks in the nation for receiving the prestigious academic award.
K-State has tallied 79 Academic All-Big 12 selections and 16 Academic All-District student-athletes during Fritz's tenure to go with the nine AVCA Team Academic Awards. JuliAnne Chisholm also earned back-to-back Academic All-America status in 2009 and 2010.
Along with the academic awards and 10 All-American performances on the court, 11 players have been selected as All-District a total of 16 times. With Fritz on the coaching staff, K-State has earned 40 All-Big 12 nods and 34 Big 12 players of the week.
Fritz began her head coaching career at K-State as the interim head coach after Jim McLaughlin left the program shortly before the start of the 2001 season. After a 9-5 start her first year, Fritz was named the program's permanent head coach. She took the reigns from McLaughlin after serving as his top assistant four years.
As an assistant coach for the Wildcats, Fritz was one of the chief architects of Kansas State's current success from 1997-2000. She helped guide the program to five consecutive NCAA Tournaments, including its first appearance in the round of 16 of the tournament in 2000. In that span, the Wildcats posted a 103-52 (.665) overall record, including a 75-36 (.676) mark in Big 12 play. The program recorded four straight final AVCA/USA Today Top 25 finishes, including a then-program-best 16th ranking to conclude the 2000 season.
The team developed into a force in one of the nation's toughest conferences, finishing in the top five each year. The Wildcats had a then school-record second place finish in 2000 with a 14-6. As the head coach Fritz would best that conference mark with a 16-4 record in 2002 and better it yet at 18-2 in the title year of 2003.
While an assistant at K-State, she helped produce two All-Americans, including the program's first in Dawn Cady in 1999, three all-district selections, 11 All-Big 12 honorees and 22 Academic All-Big 12 picks.
Prior to coming to Kansas State in 1997, Fritz spent two years as an assistant coach at NJCAA power Barton County Community College in Great Bend, Kan. During her stay at Barton County, she helped guide the Cougars to a 111-14 (.888) overall record and a pair of top 5 finishes at the NJCAA National Tournament. In two years coaching under Ray Bechard (now the head coach at archrival Kansas), she helped coach two first team All-Americans, two NJCAA All-Tournament picks, seven Region VI honorees and five Academic All-Americans.
Fritz also played two years under Bechard at Barton County from 1990-91, helping lead the Cougars to a 107-10 (.915) overall record and back-to-back final four finishes at the NJCAA Tournament as the team's starting setter. During her sophomore campaign, she was named the school's Most Valuable Player and to the All-Tournament team at the NJCAA Tournament. She was also named to the Volleyball Academic All-American team. She still ranks ninth in single-season assists with 1,219 assists set in 1991.
After two years at Barton, Fritz transferred to Northeast Louisiana (now Louisiana-Monroe) for her junior season before transferring to Florida Atlantic for her senior campaign, finishing her playing career in 1994. She was named the team's Most Inspirational Player and was an All-Tournament selection.
Upon earning a bachelor's degree in exercise science and wellness education from Florida Atlantic in 1994, she spent a year as an assistant coach at her alma mater before returning to coach at Barton County in 1995. During her one-year stint at FAU, Fritz helped the Owls to a 6-21 overall record in just their first season in NCAA Division I.
Fritz earned a master's degree in educational administration and leadership from Kansas State in August 2002.
Fritz is not the first coach in her family. Steve, her husband, is entering his 20th season as an assistant track and field coach for the nationally-renowned Kansas State program, while her parents and both brothers have served in some coaching capacity. Suzie's father, Larry Wiemers, spent more than 25 years as head football coach at Clay Center High School. Her brother Dave coaches football at Pittsburg State, and brother Jon at Coffeyville Community College. Suzie's mother, Sandi, has been a teacher of baton twirling for years and has held positions in her national organization.
A native of Clay Center, Kan., the former Suzie Wiemers, was married to Steve Fritz on June 17, 2000. Steve Fritz, a member of the Kansas State Sports Hall of Fame, was a decathlete who placed fourth in the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. The couple has two children, Thomas Jon (T.J.) and Jake.