Wittenberg’s long-time diving coach Jim Smith passed away on the morning of Feb. 3, after fighting a long battle with cancer.
Smith, who joined Wittenberg Swimming & Diving in 2004, rarely missed a day of practice — despite the severity of his illnesses — and was well-known for his unique and often tough approach to coaching.
Senior diver Eric Roberts, who worked closely with Smith during the last four years of his diving career, talked admirably of his beloved coach while speaking at Weaver Chapel last Thursday.
“Jim came to coach for as long as he was able to,” Roberts said. “He was, without a doubt, one of the strongest men I ever knew.”
Many of Wittenberg’s divers, past and present, took to social media last week to commemorate the end of Smith’s 10 years of dedication to the diving program.
“Jim got me more than 11 dives in less than three month [sic],” said junior and former diver Nathan Yoder on his Facebook page. “He taught me how to truly be cool.”
“To a coach who helped me with so much more than diving- thank you so much. Jim, you will be truly missed,” said sophomore and former diver Kate Gustafson on her Facebook page.
“Jim was so committed to our program, and he made a tremendous impact upon our divers,” Head Coach Natalie Koukis told University Communications in a press release. “He did so much work and spent so many hours with us, far exceeding any monetary compensation he received. His absence is already being felt.”
While the loss of their coach is indeed a tragedy, Wittenberg’s divers remain in good hands as they head to their conference meet this week to finish out their season. Roberts, along with long-time coach Daneen Maughmer, has remained on deck to coach and support the diving team during the most critical part of the season.