Alumni Profiles

Back from London
Rick Schavone '71, the U.S. Olympic team's assistant diving coach, looks to 2016

Bookmark and Share
Easy to print version

Joe Scarnici/Stringer

Even with a doctorate in sport psychology and four decades of experience, Rick Schavone '71 admits there were aspects of coaching the U.S. diving team at the London Olympics that blew him away.

"The press and the publicity were just beyond conceivability," Schavone recalls while unwinding after the games at his summer home near Lake Winnipesaukee. "And the level of intensity—I was shocked by it. When we won our first medal, coaches were crying. It was just pure excellence, and I got to watch it every day." By the end, the U.S. team had won America's first diving medals in 12 years—a gold, a silver and two bronzes.

Schavone, a three-time NCAA Coach of the Year who has led divers to 16 national championships, is entering his 35th year as head coach at Stanford. His passion for the sport dates to 1969, when, as a UNH sophomore majoring in physical education, he took a summer job at the public pond in his hometown of Wayland, Mass. "They wanted a diving class, and I said, 'I can do this,'" Schavone explains. "So I grabbed a book about diving, swam out to the floating dock, and taught my first diving class."

Schavone, a baseball and basketball player at UNH, never dived competitively. To this day, he still hasn't taken the plunge. "That's helped me and it's hurt me," Schavone says. "The way it's hurt me is the obvious—I can't feel the fear. But the part that I think is an advantage is that I brought a lot from other sports into diving—teamship, understanding the psychology of winning and losing, knowing that you can still love the sport even when you lose."

While working on his doctorate at Stanford in 1975, Schavone went to the pool deck to volunteer, only to find the Stanford coach struggling to comply with newly enacted Title IX rules. Schavone was happy to oversee the female squad, and did so well that Princeton hired him as head coach. A year later, Stanford wooed Schavone back to run the entire program. At the time, diving was a niche sport that lacked resources. "We just kept chipping away," he says, "and now it's one of the finest college diving programs in the United States."

Schavone has traveled the globe in charge of a number of U.S. diving teams, and in 2003, he received the prestigious Whosam Award for adhering to high standards of physical and mental well-being. He coached the last six Olympic trials before two of his Stanford divers, Kristian Ipsen and Cassidy Krug, earned him a berth on the 2012 Summer Games staff.

Schavone says Ipsen, who won a bronze medal in London, will return to Stanford, while Krug, who has graduated, is taking a break before making a decision about the 2016 Olympics. Schavone wants one more shot at coaching a gold medalist before retiring, and he believes the world hasn't yet seen Krug at her best. "Cassidy is as close to greatness as I've ever produced," Schavone says. "I mean, she does dives at a level no other girls have done—things that weren't even in my mind when I first started 35 years ago."

 Easy to print version

Return to Alumni Profiles

blog comments powered by Disqus