Keith Russell Staff Bio | Head Diving Coach

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Keith Russell

Keith Russell is one of the most successful coaches to ever come to Brigham Young University. His athletes have captured numerous All-America honors and represented their country in the Olympic Games. As a rookie coach in 1992, he helped Vanessa Thelin and Valerie Blau earn All-America status at the NCAA Championships. He followed that success by coaching Thelin to the 1994 NCAA title on the 1-meter springboard.

His success has garnered 14 MWC Diving Coach of the Year awards. Russell has coached Devan Porter, Justin Wilcock, Tawni Jones, Ron Morris, Ava Jackman, Brandon Watson, his son, Aaron and many more to conference titles. He also guided Rachelle Kunkel to two conference titles and a sixth-place finish at the U.S. Diving Nationals on the 1-meter springboard. Wilcock and Kunkel continued on in their career to represent the United States in the 2004 Olympic Summer Games in Athens, Greece. Russell also served as the only diving judge from the United States in the 2008 Olympic Summer Games in Beijing, China.

In 2003, Aaron, coached by his father, captured all three MWC diving titles and finished fifth at the NCAA Championships, earning first-team All-America honors on the 1-meter springboard and second-team All America honors on the 3-meter springboard. Russell was also named diving coach for the 1999 and 2001 U.S. squad at the World Student University Games.

A native of Mesa, Ariz., Russell won the 1968 NCAA 3-meter diving championships while attending Arizona State. He was later selected for the 1968 U.S. Olympic Games Diving Team. Following an LDS mission to Chile, he enrolled at BYU where he won All-America diving honors in 1972.

He graduated from BYU in 1973 with a B.S. degree in business. Continuing his athletic career, he competed in the 1974 World Championships, placing second on the platform and third on the 3-meter springboard.

Russell remained active in diving affairs while pursuing a career in business. He founded the Mesa Desert Divers and was head coach for 10 years. He was president of the Arizona Diving Association and president of the Professional Diving Coaches Association and a member of the U.S. Diving Board of Directors.
He is married to Marsha Lofgreen and they have six children.

Years at BYU

1992-Present

Education

  • B.A. in business management from BYU, 1973

Prior to BYU

  • 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 diving at the University of Utah from 1979-1981

Hometown

  • Mesa, Arizona

Personal/Family

  • Served an LDS church mission to Chile in 1971
  • Married to Marsha, with 6 children

1994 Hall of Fame Inductee

National champions like diver Keith Russell are a cut above most other All-Americans.

In 1968 Keith won the NCAA three-meter diving championship, usually an eastern-dominated title, while competing for Arizona State University. That same year he placed fourth at the Olympic Games in Mexico City. He also participated in the 1972 and 1976 U.S. Olympic trials.

Keith completed a mission to Chile in 1971. When he returned to his native Arizona, he learned that his coach, Dick Smith, had left ASU for the Air Force Academy. Although it would cost him a year of eligibility, Keith decided his future was waiting for him at BYU.

He was right. The six-time national champion rewrote the Cougar record book in one-meter and three-meter diving. In 1972, when the NCAA Championships were hosted by Army, he received All-America honors for placing fourth.

In 1967 Keith won a silver medal at the World University Games on the 10-meter platform and a gold medal on the three-meter board. That same year he also competed in the Pan American Games, where he won the silver medal in the three-meter.

Keith was a two-time Western Athletic Conference champion on the one-meter board, winning both the one-meter and the three-meter titles in 1972. In 1973 he competed in the World Championships held in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, where he claimed a silver medal in the 10-meter competition and a bronze medal in the three-meter. In 1974 at Decatur, Alabama, he earned two national diving titles, winning both his specialty - the three-meter springboard - and the national platform title. In recognition of these accomplishments, last year Keith was inducted into the Mesa Arizona Sports Hall of Fame.

Not only is Keith a successful diver, he is also a successful coach. Following a two-year stint at the University of Utah, Keith began coaching the men's and women's teams at BYU in 1992. Under his tutelage Vanessa Thelin and Valeria Blau have received All-America diving honors.

Keith graduated from BYU in 1973 with a degree in business management.

Career Highlights

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

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 three-meter board
  • Competed in the Pan American Games where he won a silver medal in the three-meter

1968 Sophomore Year-Arizona State University

  • First in the WAC one –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
  • Coaches at the University of Utah for 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-present

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 three-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, Arizona Sports Hall of Fame 1993
  • Inducted into the BYU Hall of Fame 1994
  • Earned 14 MWC Coach of the Year awards