Most successful UA diver named as coach

By Shoshana Burrus
Arizona Summer Wildcat
June 12, 1996

Michele Mitchell-Rocha, the most successful diver in UA history, was hired June 5 as head coach for the Arizona men's and women's diving teams.

She will begin her coaching duties in August, athletic director Jim Livengood announced last week.

Mitchell-Rocha was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1995 and won silver medals on the 10-meter platform at both the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles and the 1988 games in Seoul, Korea.

Swim coach Frank Busch had nothing but positive things to say about Michele.

"When you think of women's diving,, you think of Michele Mitchell," he said. "She is one of the most recognized figures in the diving world, and to have her here at Arizona, as a former Wildcat, is a tremendous boost for our program."

Mitchell-Rocha feels that now is the right time to build a strong diving program at the UA.

"The position was open at the beginning of the year, but I had just had a baby, and it was bad timing," Mitchell-Rocha said from her home in Florida. "When they were still looking for someone to build the program, I reapplied for the position in May, when my daughter was six months old. It was better timing for my husband and I."

Mitchell-Rocha said she was offered the head coach position a couple of weeks ago.

"I was thrilled and extremely excited about the job," she said, "but I knew that it meant leaving the place where we have lived for 11 years. I am eager to move back West. I consider it my home. We will be closer to relatives, so that is very exciting. The staff at the UA have been very understanding and supportive."

Another of Mitchell-Rocha's goals is to make Tucson a place on the map for diving.

"Frank Busch has done a dynamic job with his swim team, and it is a compliment to work with him. I look forward to being a part of his continuing success at Arizona," Mitchell-Rocha said.

Many of Mitchell-Rocha's career milestones were established at the UA.

A 1988 inductee into the Arizona Hall of Fame, she was a four-time All-American during her collegiate years, from 1979-83. She was a nine-time U.S. national champion, a 1985 World FINA Cup champion, a 1987 Pan American Games champion and a four-time U.S. Olympic Committee "Athlete of the Year" honoree. She also holds the American record of 479.40 points, for an eight-dive list, on the platform.