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Out in the Nick of Time
Jim Hocking

As many of you know by now, I am no longer the Diving Coach at the University of Nebraska. I have received many calls and e-mails of inquiry, and I want to address some issues. Now three weeks into a new career, I can finally catch my breath and begin to communicate some of the feelings I've long held.

My love for the sport of diving was nearly all consuming; it was definitely driven from the heart, not from trying to fill my wallet. Making a living is important, but loving what you do on a day-to-day basis is what drives all human beings. Throughout my first four years at Nebraska, coaching did satisfy those basic human needs--as well as my wallet. As time progressed, however, there began a gradual shift in the basic hierarchy that began to affect my ability to care for my athletes in the best way that I saw possible. This ultimately resulted in the collegiate level of the sport being unable to fulfill the emotional satisfaction I needed.

Unfortunately, it seems that my lack of fulfillment at the collegiate level is something I share with at least several of my colleagues. It seems that over the course of my Division I tenure, a subtle shift of power occurred whereby diving coaches lost control of their programs to the swimming coaches. Ultimately, it may be the correct "business decision" for the program in its entirety (i.e., swimming and diving); however, most unfortunately, it means that divers and diving coaches have had to increase their tolerance for the historic prejudice that swimming has inflicted upon diving. While it would be unfair to to publicly name those programs in which this has occurred, the important question that remains to be answered by the coaches who have chosen to make collegiate diving their career is: How long will they allow this to go on or how long will it go on before diving ceases to exist as a collegiate sport?

As many of you know, I have been quite outspoken in my support for the secession of diving from swimming. I have always believed it to be necessary for the continued well-being of diving as a collegiate sport. Today more than ever, I still stand by that belief. More on that later.

Just a couple of thoughts in closing... I feel extraordinarily fortunate to have been the Diving Coach at the University of Nebraska. (Shut up all you jerks who make fun of Huskers!!! :-). Although Nebraska always has and always will be subjected to discrimination, I believe the work ethic and general supportiveness of the people in this state is unparalleled. As a native Californian/transplanted Nebraskan, I feel that I have a valid pedestal upon which to preach. The community's support of my program was always tremendous, and I want to say thank you to those who supported my athletes and myself throughout the years.

I would also like to put an end to some of the rumors surrounding my departure from the University of Nebraska. In 1998, I suffered a permanent injury to my hand that affected my ability to belt spot the generally more massive collegiate divers for which Nebraska is famous. I began to question my physical abilities--not so much for the immediate future--but more for what they would be like in 10-15 years. Coincidentally, I also met the love of my life. In our early discussions of our future together, she wisely pointed out to me that it was ludicrous to consider parenthood when my ritual of coaching at the collegiate level kept me on the road an average of 150 days out of the year. Add into the equation the degradation of seeing my collegiate athletes subjected to decisions made by swimming coaches that were not in their best interests, and a career change was the only logical choice.

The timing of my departure and the subsequent investigation of the swimming portion of the program at the University of Nebraska was merely coincidental. I began to evaluate my possible alternative careers in the spring of 1999. I interviewed with my current company in early February of 2000. Ironically, as I awaited my interviews in Kansas City, I read in the U.S.A. Today sports section about the dropping of Men's Swimming and Diving at the University of Miami. At that moment, I knew that my decision was the correct decision.

The company for whom I work initially wanted me to begin in June 2000; however, I told them I was unable to begin then due to my commitment to an athlete who had dedicated himself to trying to make the Olympic Team, as well as my upcoming wedding. After my initial decline of their offer, the Wrestling Coach at Nebraska was asked to resign, and I knew then that the fuse was burning. I successfully renegotiated my initial job offer and convinced the company to allow me to begin training at the next available opportunity. Their final offer came July 31st, 2000, and I informed my superiors of my decision to resign on August 10th, effective August 31st. I began training for my new job September 11th in Scottsdale, Arizona, and completed it November 17th.

Unfortunately, due to the timing of all of this, I was unable to attend and adequately complete my tenure as the Rules Chair for United States Diving. To my colleagues for whom I served, and for my co-committee members, I wanted to apologize for the timing of my personal-life events that prevented me from attending the USAS Convention in Orlando. I thoroughly enjoyed serving and relished the challenges that were put forth to the committee. I know at some point I would like to again be of service to United States Diving. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me.

Jim Hocking

H2O Nebraska Diving

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