We had the chance to interview Dr. Ron O’Brien, one of the biggest names in US diving. He shaped the direction of US diving as the former national technical director and high performance director of US diving.
Dr. O’Brien’s athletes have won over 196 medals in the Olympics, world, national, NCAA, and Big Ten Conference championships. He has coached athletes to 12 Olympic medals (five golds, three silvers, and four bronzes). Perhaps his most memorable record is coaching a national champion for 23 straight years from 1973 to1995.
Dr. O’Brien was kind enough to answer some of our questions about diving recruiting and how his website helps the diving community.
How is Diving Recruiting Different than Other Sports?
Divers don’t get as much exposure in the media as many other sports; therefore, it is harder for college coaches to find divers around the country. The coach is usually familiar with the top divers in the country that go to a lot of USA diving events and the divers in their state. There are many talented divers around the country that never get noticed. Divers and coaches work together on every dive, so being on the same page is critical. Divers to College has a learning styles inventory and a teaching styles inventory that provide a profile for each diver and coach and the opportunity for a diver and coach to match these inventory results to see if they would work well together. I don’t know of another recruiting service that has this feature.
If a High School Diver is Just Getting Started in Recruiting, Where Should they Start?
They can register on several different recruiting websites to maximize their exposure to college coaches. As time goes on and Divers to College becomes more established in the diving community (both nationally and internationally), it should become the prime recruiting exchange for divers and coaches. Divers and their parents also need to be proactive by searching for the type of school, location, size, academic majors, etc., then research the diving program and contact the coach. There are a lot of NCAA restrictions on when and how coaches can contact prospects, but none on the athletes.
What are the Most Common Mistakes Diving Recruits Make in the Recruiting Process?
Waiting too long to get into the recruiting game. I believe they should start getting their information out there as sophomores and update the information in their junior and senior years. The junior year is the critical time to catch the coaches’ attention. By the end of fall and beginning of winter, the coaches are winding up their recruiting for the next incoming class and starting to look for divers in the next year’s graduating class. Also, divers need to get good-quality videos posted in their junior year. As a former coach myself, I know that video is the key factor in whether a coach is interested or not.
Do Coaches Recruit More on Ability or Potential?
That is hard to answer. I feel the coaches at the top diving schools recruit on ability and how good you are right now. They want production at the NCAA level right away. Coaches at the second-tier schools and divisions II and III are more patient and will recruit a diver who has potential but needs development.
What Kinds of Scholarship Opportunities are Available for Divers?
Do divers get full-ride scholarships? There are full rides available at many schools, especially the division I top swimming and diving programs, but there are also full and partial scholarships available at other division I-A, 1-AA, and II schools. Division III schools don’t award athletic scholarships but can help with academic aid.
How is Your Website Free?
Dr. O’Brien runs the website www.diverstocollege.com, where high school and college coaches can connect and learn about one another.
There is no charge for divers or coaches to utilize the website. The minimal costs of maintaining and upgrading the site are supported by the Duraflex International Corporation (they manufacture diving boards and diving stands). We do it as a needed service to the sport.
How Many Coaches Use Your Website?
There are currently 258 college diving coaches registered from all levels of NCAA, NAIA, and junior colleges.
What if I Have Questions About Recruiting? Can I E-mail You?
Yes, you can go to the website and e-mail through the Contact Us tab.