The Tiger diving team will continue their season with heavy hearts as they learned last week of the passing of long-time diving coach Jim Smith. Coach Smith, or simply Jim as he was known to his friends and divers alike, had been fighting cancer for the past several months. Smith, a Yellow Springs resident, was an integral part of the Tiger Swimming and Diving Squad for several years, and will be remembered fondly throughout the Tiger family.
Smith became coach of the Tigers after years of experience on the diving block. Smith won two state AAU titles himself and was an accomplished athlete on the trampoline in his youth. Smith went on to be the owner and operator of a home improvement company called “At Your Service Home Remodeling.”
With the Tigers, Smith found a great deal of success. Smith coached Cody Nicely, ’07, to a NCAC Diver of the Year title in his first year in the program. He went on to guide Courtney Roth, ’08, to two of the titles later in his career. Smith, himself, was named NCAC Diving Coach of the Year in 2008. Smith will be best remembered among his divers for his no-nonsense attitude and determination, which was illustrated through an often-repeated quote he relayed from his mother “can’t never could do nothin’.”
Eric Roberts, senior dive captain, has taken over coaching duties in recent months. He said of his coach:
“He was really a humble guy despite his work hard, no B.S. attitude towards everything he invested himself in. He expected no less from everyone around him in return, and offered the kind of accountability that you might expect from a drill sergeant.”
Roberts remembered how his coach’s attitudes and caring nature helped in his freshman year transition to the demands of being a student athlete.
Roberts, whose career ended early after his facial injuries, is humbled to fill the shoes of the coach he admired, saying, “while I try my best to coach with the spirit that Jim showed, it is truly sincerely difficult to pass his bright light to others. I can only hope that it continues beyond my time here.”
Coach Smith will be in the forefront of the Tiger divers’ minds as they continue their season in the NCAC next week at Denison. Freshman Kaitlyn Black will look to extend her season, as she has NCAA Division III provisional qualifying standers in 1- and 3-meter dive competitions.