Now in his 23rd season as the head diving coach for the IU swimming and diving team, Jeff Huber has had a career that few others have attained.
During his tenure at IU, Huber has led the Hoosiers to 13 U.S. Diving Combined Team National Championships and has coached divers to 72 All-American individual honors, five NCAA individual titles and 41 individual Big Ten titles.
In addition to the success in the pool, Huber has been named the U.S. National Coach of the Year 11 times, was named Big Ten Coach of the Year 13 times and has been a coach on the U.S. Olympic diving team for the last three Olympiads. Most recently, Huber served as a member of the diving coaching staff for the United States during the 2011 Pan American Games.
Huber, who dove at Wisconsin and graduated in 1975, said his career successes might never have happened if not for a volunteer coaching position at a community college in California.
“I always knew I wanted to be a teacher, but I really decided on becoming a coach full-time after volunteering for two years at Cypress College in Southern California,” Huber said. “Before that, I actually planned to be an English teacher.”
Before coming to IU, Huber coached divers at Nebraska for 11 years, where he won Big Eight Coach of the Year five times. He was also the coach for 27 Big Eight individual titles.
Since coming to Bloomington, Huber said he cherished every moment as his career continued to bloom.
“Being a Hoosier has meant being a part of a very special University and college town,” Huber said. “My wife is an assistant professor at IU. Our daughter graduated from IU, and our son is a senior at IU. We feel like we are a part of something special and really worthwhile here.”
Huber has overseen the emergence of many divers during his career at IU, including Olympic gold medalist Mark Lenzi and NCAA Champions Christina Loukas, Kimiko Harai-Soldati and Cassandra Cardinell. He has also overseen national champion divers junior Amy Cozad, sophomore Laura Ryan and graduate Sara Reiling-Hildebrand.
However, Huber said some of his greatest successes have come in the development of lesser-known divers, such as junior Zac Nees, who won his first career dual-meet event on the 1-meter springboard competition during the Nov. 4 meet against Michigan and Texas.
“Seeing guys like Zac Nees coming into prominence is very intrinsically rewarding,” Huber said. “That is why I got into teaching. I have some very talented divers with big goals, and my challenge is to do my job correctly and help them reach their goals and see their dreams come true.”
Huber said it is the untapped potential of such talent that keeps him coming back as he stays committed to bringing out the best in all of his athletes.
“The biggest impact Coach Huber has had on me is to set goals and reflect on my progress toward everything I do,” Nees said. “He is also very good at having the staff working together to keep my outlook positive during competition, even after a missed dive.”
Huber is now a member of the Indiana Swimming and Diving Wall of Fame and has coached divers from their first steps onto a college campus to the pinnacle of international competition.
“All those accolades next to my name really do not mean much to me,” Huber said.
“As I told my wife many years ago, if it is just about winning and medals, I don’t want to coach. Fame is fleeting, and medals tarnish. Character is forever.”
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