Feature

Keith Russell to retire after 23 years

PROVO, Utah – BYU head diving coach Keith Russell announced that he will be retiring at the end of the 2014-15 season after 23 years of leading the Cougar divers.

Russell was honored following a meet against Denver last Saturday, his last home meet as the head coach.

“To be here has been a dream come true,” Russell said. “My goal was to raise a family and to be able to do that right here, under these circumstances with the support and help from the administration and all the head coaches, Tim Powers and John Brooks. It’s been such a wonderful ride.”

Russell took over as the head coach in 1992 and BYU divers immediately started benefiting from his coaching. His rookie season, two of his divers, Vanessa Thelin and Valerie Blau, earned All-America status. Two seasons later, Thelin won the 1994 NCAA national title on the 1-meter under Russell’s guidance.

Over the course of his career, he earned 14 Mountain West Conference Diving Coach of the Year awards and two of his former divers competed for the United States in the 2004 Olympic Summer Games in Athens, Greece. Russell served as a diving judge in the 2008 Olympic Summer Games in Beijing, China.

Prior to serving an LDS mission to Chile, Russell won the 1968 NCAA 3-meter diving national championship at Arizona State and placed fourth at the Olympic Games in Mexico City. Russell transferred to BYU upon returning from Chile and won All-American diving honors in 1972.

A native of Mesa, Arizona, he was inducted into the Mesa City Sports Hall of Fame in 1993 and into the BYU Hall of Fame a year later in 1994.

Russell married Marsha Lofgreen and the couple have six children.

Career Highlights

  • Won first in the WAC 1-meter at Arizona State University 1968
  • Won the NCAA 3-meter diving championship for ASU 1968
  • Placed fourth in the 10-meter at the Olympic Games at Mexico City 1968
  • Two-time WAC champion on the 1-meter board 1971, 1972
  • Won the 3-meter WAC title1972
  • Placed fourth in the 10-meter at the NCAA Championships 1972
  • 1972 All-American in 3-meter 

Before BYU

1967 Freshman Year- Arizona State University

  • Won a silver medal at the World University Games on the 10-meter platform
  • Won a gold medal at the World University Games on the 3-meter 
  • Competed in the Pan American Games where he won a silver medal in the 3-meter

1968 Sophomore Year-Arizona State University

  • First in the WAC 1-meter, 433.90
  • NCAA National Champion 494.55
  • Member of the U.S. Olympic Diving Team
  • Six-time National Champion
  • Member of more than a dozen international senior teams including Pan Am and World teams

After BYU

  • Professional Diver participating in multiple world championships and Olympic trials (1972, 1976)
  • Member of the 1968 Olympic Diving Team
  • Six-time National Champion and  member of the Pan Am and World Teams
  • Founded the Mesa Desert Divers (Mesa, Arizona) and was a coach for 10 years
  • President of the Arizona Diving Association
  • President of the Professional Diving Coaches Association
  • Member of the U.S. Diving Board of Directors
  • Coached at the University of Utah from 1989-1991
  • Served as a diving judge in the 2008 Beijing Olympics
  • Diving coach at the University of Utah from 1979-1981
  • Diving coach at BYU from 1992-2015

Post-BYU Honors and Societies

  • Won a silver medal in the World Championships in the 10-meter competitions
  • Won a bronze medal in the World Championships in the 3-meter
  • World Springboard Champion at Decatur, Alabama 1974
  • World Platform Diving Champion at Decatur, Alabama 1974
  • Made it to the finals of the U.S. Olympic Trials 1976
  • Inducted into the Mesa City Sports Hall of Fame 1993
  • Inducted into the BYU Hall of Fame 1994
  • Earned 14 MWC Coach of the Year awards