Brenau Athletics Hall of Fame Inducts Five Pioneers of Golden Tigers Swimming Program
Brenau University on Saturday, Oct. 1, will induct five new members into its Golden Tigers Athletics Hall of Fame that represent the university’s debut into intercollegiate competitive swimming and the foundation for a Golden Tigers swim team today that’s a perennial contender for conference and national championships.
The group, which includes Brenau’s first swim coach Peter “Doc” Kennedy, will be honored at an invitation-only luncheon at the Brenau Downtown Center as part of the university’s Homecoming Weekend festivities. This fourth group of annual inductees were all drawn from the pool of swimmers and coaches who competed for Brenau between 1978 through 1980.
“I got to Gainesville in July of 1974, and at that time Brenau was finishing building its pool,” said Kennedy.“I walked in and they said they would like a swim team, so I said okay, and we started one. We started right away, and our first meet was October of that year. And we won. So the very first swim meet Brenau ever had, we won it.”
Athletics Director Mike Lochstampfor said the Hall of Fame selection committee voted unanimously to accept each of the five nominees.
“Four phenomenal swimmers with major accomplishments are represented along with Coach Doc Kennedy, who played a significant role in their individual and team successes in their time at Brenau. This is a very impressive group that swam against – and defeated – the likes of Florida State, the University of Georgia and other powerhouses at that time. I am very excited to welcome each of them into a select group of Brenau athletes and coaches that paved the way for the many athletes that have followed.”
The Golden Tigers swimmer compete in the Appalachian Swim Conference of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. However, in the 1970s, women’s intercollegiate sports were not as prevalent as they are today, even at larger schools like Georgia that are now part of the NCAA.
Here’s some thumbnail biographies of each hall of Fame inductee:
Dr. Peter E. “Doc” Kennedy was hired as an associate professor of education/director of aquatics/head swimming and diving coach/head water polo coach from 1974-78. A native of Waterbury, Connecticut, he is a graduate of Niagara University with a Bachelor of Arts in history. He earned a Master of Arts in history from Indiana University and a Ph.D. in physical education from Ohio State University in 1973. He developed the first competitive swim team and coached 16 All-Americans over his tenure, hosted the 1978 AIAW National Women’s Meet and directed his squad to a third-place national finish two years in a row. Kennedy left Brenau in 1978 to coach at Pacific Lutheran and later at the University of Iowa. He is married to Barb Kennedy and has four children and 13 grandchildren.
Golden Tiger swimmer Suzanne Garland, WC ’80, graduated with a B.A. in physical education from Brenau and also attended Columbus State and University of Georgia. She was a member of team that held national record for 200 medley relay and a two-time AIAW All-American, and she ranked No. 10 in the 50 butterfly and No. 2 in 200 freestyle relay. After Brenau, Garland worked at the Hughston Sports Medicine Clinic and taught at Brenau Academy for eight years. She was the 1995 Georgia Women’s Intersport Network State Coach of the Year and also was a 1996 Olympic Line Judge for the Women’s Volleyball Gold Medal match. She currently is a nationally-certified USA and Collegiate Volleyball Official with national and international experience and referees competitions throughout the US and D1 colleges. She also serves as the Southern Region beach volleyball chairperson on the USA Southern Region Board of Directors. Originally from Columbus, Georgia, she now resides in Smyrna.
Nancy Voss Emerson, WC ’79, swam with the Golden Tigers from 1975-79. She was on the team that held a national record for 200 medley relay, was an AIAW All-American and ranked No. 6 in the 50 breaststroke and No. 2 in the 200 freestyle relay. After graduating from Brenau University with a B.S. in biology, Nancy worked as a local YMCA aquatics director and went on to be coach a local USA swim team and two different high school swim teams in New York. She currently lives near San Antonio, Texas, and works as a point of care and phlebotomy coordinator for a local hospital. She also teaches swimming lessons and is in the process of becoming a USA Swimming official. Emerson has a husband Michael, and children Adam, Jessica and Mary.
Susie McIntyre Finley , WC ’78, earned her B.S. in biology from Brenau and a Master of Physical Therapy in 1986. She was a two-time AAU All-American water polo player and was on the Anaheim Water Polo 1975 championship team. After graduation, she went on to compete on the national water polo team from 1978-88 and participated in two World Games, two World Championships, three World Cups and an exhibition competition in the 1984 Olympics. She has won two events at Masters Swimming Nationals, setting one national record. She is married with two children and living in Littleton, Colorado. She is a licensed physical therapist and started her own business, Back on Track Canine Rehabilitation, in 1999 and currently works with local veterinary hospitals and doctors to rehabilitate dogs that are injured or older.
Carol Obermeyer Nall, WC ’80, of Miramar, Florida, earned a B.A. in Broadcasting. She was a member of the swim team that held national record for 200 medley relay. She was a 1978 AIAW All-American, ranked No. 9 in 50 freestyle, No. 2 in 200 freestyle relay and No. 1 in 400 freestyle relay. Since leaving Brenau University, Nall has worked in the medical education field and is responsible for the development and implementation of medical education programs designed to educate physicians in the safe and effective use of biological/regenerative products for the treatment of patients. Married to Rick Nall, they have one son and one grandchild, and in her spare time, Nall participates in weight training, yoga and tennis.
Nall still vividly remembers the thrill of being a Golden Tiger swimmer, recalling the moment her team beat Florida State at a home swim meet. “The entire campus was so excited and rooting for us the entire week leading up to the meet. There were pep rallies, sorority sings and students running through campus screaming, ’Beat FSU!’ At the meet, the stands were packed with Brenau students, faculty, friends and family. Their huge FSU bus rolled up to the natatorium, and we knew they were all thinking, ‘We got this one. Small school, small team.’ We were a small team at a small school, but we had a huge heart and a great school behind us – and we won! I remember the stunned looks on the other team’s faces sitting on the bench. We loved it!”
The university created the Athletics Hall of Fame to recognize accomplishments of its student-athletes, coaches, administrators and others who have demonstrated outstanding athletic performance and character. Each class, selected from nominations by Brenau University alumni, is limited to four members. That group is selected by consensus of the Hall of Fame committee, which comprises head coaches, directors and others in the Brenau athletics family.
No more than four Brenau student-athletes who graduated from the institution can be inducted each year. The class may not include more than one coach a year, and that must be a person who worked at the university for a minimum of four years.
“I’m excited that the 1970s swim teams are being honored,” said Brenau’s Head Swim Coach Nathan Rhoads. “These women accomplished amazing things. They were national champions, taking down all the major programs from all the power conferences. I hope that all of the current athletes at Brenau can look at the success of these 1970s teams, appreciate the opportunities they have been given, and set high standards and goals for themselves.”
Previous inductees into Brenau’s Hall of Fame included last year’s Dr. Bill Rogers, the head tennis coach from 1995-2003, as well as tennis players Leyla Ogen of Birmingham, England; Helene Macchi of Montreal, Canada; and Alexandra Rossi Rashed of Geneva, Switzerland. The 2014 inductees included Gordon Leslie, who served as Brenau’s head tennis coach and athletics director until his retirement in 2010, Hollywood costume-fitter and Brenau trustee Antonina Grib Lerch from Minsk, Belarus; Sheau Shan Liew of Kuching, Malaysia; and Laurence Neuville of Montpellier, France.