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'I now have 37 years of experiences that I want to share' -- Olympic diving coach joins IU faculty

Sept. 12, 2013

Jeffrey Huber, a former U.S. Olympic coach and head coach for diving at IU, has joined the faculty at the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences as a professor of practice.

Jeff Huber

Former U.S. Olympic coach Jeff Huber has joined the faculty at the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at IU. | Photo By credit

Huber was head diving coach at IU from 1989 to 2013 and is well known for his 37-year career as a collegiate diving coach. He received the highest national and international honors and awards for his coaching, including three-time U.S. Olympic Coach, 12-time USA Diving National Coach of the Year, NCAA Diving Coach of the Year, Big Ten Diving Coach of the Year for the men’s and women’s teams almost every year between 1992 and 2013, and four-time winner of the US National Diving Championship Coach of Excellence Award.

Less known, perhaps, is his academic background in educational psychology and his lifelong engagement with theories of cognition and motor-learning. He served as both an adjunct assistant professor in the IU School of Education and a coach before his coaching became a 24/7 proposition.

“Getting kids to the Olympics -- you can’t take time off from that,” he said.

Yet, throughout his career Huber consistently applied the principles of psychology to the coaching arena and wrote a textbook and several articles on the topic. He now brings his 37 years of coaching experience back to the classroom.

William Hetrick, chair of the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, said that while many know Huber as an "internationally decorated diving coach and living legend" at IU, he suspects few are aware of his background in educational psychology and as author of a new textbook on the application of psychological principles to athletic performance and coaching.

The department is within the College of Arts and Sciences.

"He takes a scholarly -- and heart-felt -- approach to the application of psychological principles to real-world challenges facing elite athletes and coaches. This is exactly what you'd expect of a professor of practice,” Hetrick said.

As a coach, Huber developed a reputation for taking kids in high school who were not well known -- and were in fact not even very good divers -- and leading them to win national titles within a two-year period.

Huber recalls one year he went to Indianapolis to recruit a top female diver who had no interest in IU.

He then happened to receive a videotape from a different diver in New York, who wasn't very good. But she came out for a visit and he saw that she was intelligent and had a positive attitude and an ability to learn. By the time Cassandra Cardinell graduated, she was an NCAA champion, a USA national champion and an Olympian.

That Huber typically had more divers on the 10-meter platform than any other program in the country also reflects his skill in applying psychological principles to the sport to create an effective learning environment. On one of the most fear-provoking diving platforms, Huber was able to “get kids up on the platform and enable them to enjoy the event.”

“Coaches/teachers have to be guided by more than just past experiences, intuitions or what their own coaches did," he said. "I feel strongly that coaches need to be educated and to coach and train athletes according to the best theory and research.”

Huber said he is delighted to join a department that is “full of luminaries in the field” and he embraces the return to teaching and academia.

“My passion is psychology,” he said. “I’m fascinated by how people learn or why they don’t, and how we can accelerate the process. And I now have 37 years of experiences that I want to share. I am really excited to be in this department. It rocks. And I look forward to making a real contribution to it."

He will teach two courses in the spring, an introductory course and a seminar on the psychology of coaching elite athletes.

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