Salem High School Athletic Director Dave Suiter retiring
By on July 10, 2014
Nearly three decades after he started at Salem High School, Dave Suiter is saying goodbye.
Suiter, the school’s athletic director for the past 16 years, began his career at Salem as a teacher in 1987. He quickly stepped up to become the JV baseball coach before taking over the golf program. Less than 12 years after he started, Suiter took over as AD, a post he’ll hold until his official retirement date in September.
“I think we all pretty much knew we were nearing the end of the trail,” Suiter said, commenting on the retirement of himself and fellow ADs Joe Galliera of Kingsway, Steve Iles of Delsea and Gloucester’s Leon Harris. “Nobody in the conference was surprised. There’s certainly a lot of experience and historical knowledge that is retiring, but there is a lot of great young people stepping up. I think (the conference) will be as strong as it’s been since I’ve been a part of it.”
Athletic Director at Salem hasn’t been Suiter’s only duty over the past 16 years. He’s served as secretary and vice president of the Tri-County Conference before serving as president from 2004-2006. He also held the position of NJSIAA president in 2008-2009.
“I’ve always had a passion for interscholastic athletics,” he said. “(Serving in other roles) was just kind of my personality, I enjoy leadership. So when there was opportunities available, that was something that I was going to go ahead and take a shot it. They were great opportunities and great experiences.”
His proudest accomplishment as AD at Salem was helping bring the swimming and bowling programs back to life.
“The process really just involved developing interest,” Suiter recalled. “I had faculty members that had the skill sets to do the coaching and some budget increases allowed us to rent pool time and bowling alley time. It was really just a matter of seeing if the interest was there.
“We’re now at a point where this coming year there is going to be a Tri-County Conference set up for bowling. The bowling team attracts traditional and non-traditional athletes, kids that maybe wouldn’t have participated in sports otherwise.”
Suiter was able to help implement those programs, partly due to the fact there wasn’t a wrestling program pulling athletes from either bowling or swimming in the winter season. That will change this upcoming year, as the Rams will boast a wrestling program as well.
“The school is getting back into the wrestling game,” Suiter said. “There will be a modified JV schedule this year and the next year in the hopes that we will be back to wrestling in the Tri-Co in two years.”
His main hope for the wrestling program and the rest of the athletic programs is the same he had when he started his role of AD – to maintain a high level of sportsmanship and competiveness, especially as the school district begins to grow.
He still hopes to carry on his role with the NJSIAA in assisting with scorekeeping for the sectional and state golf tournaments and is sticking around until early in September to help aid the transition of the new vice principal in charge of athletics, Darryl Roberts.
“I am retiring from being a full-time AD, but I’m not sailing off into the sunset,” Suiter said. “I’m not ready to play golf every day for the rest of my life. I’ll be available and willing to help out if the Tri-County Conference needs me.”
There is some vacation time that Suiter will try and take later this summer and while he’s excited to not be working full-time, he knows it will be a transition.
“There’s definitely going to be an adjustment,” he said. “And at some point there will be a list on the refrigerator door. I’m looking forward to not doing something 8-9 hours a day for 5-6 days a week, but not necessarily ready to sit around and do the same thing every day.”
Suiter has a lot of fond memories of his time in Salem, noting the boys basketball team coached by Brad Spicer that went to the state final in the mid-2000s and the season that Brittany Smith helped lead the girls basketball team and softball team to South Jersey finals.
“Those are the things you look back on and really appreciate,” he said. “There were a lot of great things that happened in sports that didn’t even involve championships, like being a part of the 100th anniversary of the Salem-Woodstown football game.
“Any time a team from the school where you work is successful, it’s something to be proud of. Hopefully when people look back at the time when I was here, they think that we ran a clean program and didn’t have any major issues. More importantly, starting the bowling and swimming programs at the school.
“I’m really glad we could get those going and open up athletic activities to a larger group of kids. That’s the name of the game.”