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Clarion Athletics | March 5, 2021

Clarion diving coach Dave Hrovat announces retirement after 31-year career

Clarion Athletics Clarion diving coach Dave Hrovat.

CLARION, Pa. – After 31 years, 48 national champions, 294 All-Americans and hundreds of thousands of hours on the pool deck, Dave Hrovat is hanging up his flip flops. The longest-tenured coach in Clarion athletics history will retire in June.

"I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Dave Hrovat on the completion of an incredible career as Clarion's diving coach," said Clarion president Dr. Dale-Elizabeth Pehrsson. "Over the course of 31 years Dave helped our university earn the reputation as the home of the best collegiate divers in the nation, with dozens of national champions and hundreds of All-Americans. More importantly, he mentored student-athletes through their college years, urging them to be champions not just on the boards but in the classroom and in their communities. He embodies everything we want in our coaches at Clarion as a leader and a teacher. Congratulations on a richly deserved retirement!"

"I want to thank Dave Hrovat for his deep and unwavering commitment to our athletic department, and more specifically to our diving program, over his 31 years," said Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Dr. Wendy Snodgrass. "While his accomplishments as a collegiate coach on a national level are unrivaled, they were achieved through his genuine care and support of his student-athletes and their success in the pool, classroom, and community. Dave has established himself as a valued member of our department and for me personally, a trusted friend. I wish him and his wife Kim the very best in their retirement."

When Hrovat arrived at Clarion in 1990, he was stepping into the shoes of one of the most respected diving coaches not just in the NCAA but in the entire United States. Don Leas was the Golden Eagles' first diving and was a giant in the sport, serving as one of the original architects of Clarion's dominance at the collegiate level. To call the legacy of the program "immense" is perhaps still an understatement. But in his time as the Golden Eagles' diving coach, Hrovat did not just rise to the standard left by his forebears. He made his own indelible mark.

"It was certainly part of the challenge of coming to Clarion," Hrovat said of the program's legacy. "I knew what Clarion diving was, and I knew it was going to take a lot to live up to that standard."

The numbers are, in a word, staggering. In 31 years as Clarion's diving coach, Hrovat’s charges won 48 national championships. His athletes earned an incredible 294 All-American finishes. He was named the NCAA Division II Women's Diving Coach of the Year 15 times, and the Men's Diving Coach of the Year another 11 times. In 30 appearances at the NCAA Division II Championships, Hrovat's divers failed to capture at least one national championship only four times. Four times. Hrovat's women divers captured 27 national championships from 1990-2020; by comparison, the rest of the field combined for just 33 national titles. Likewise, the men won 21 out of a possible 60 national titles, meaning a male Golden Eagle stood on the top rung of the podium, on average, once every other year.

To date, four athletes that Hrovat coached have been inducted into the Clarion Sports Hall of Fame – Ken Bedford (2012), Jamie (Wolf) Jackel (2014), Kayla (Kelosky) Renninger (2017) and Logan Pearsall (2019) – and a fifth, Stephanie Sutton, was elected to the most recent Hall of Fame class. That quintet alone combined for 23 national championships. Kristin (Day) Shute, herself a three-time national champion, became the first-ever recipient of the NCAA Woman of the Year award from a Pennsylvania-based institution, and just the fourth-ever recipient from a Division II institution. Most recently, Collin Vest was a four-time national champion and a two-time NCAA Men's Diver of the Year, and Christina Sather was a two-time national champion and two-time NCAA Women's Diver of the Year.

When told of the scope of his accomplishments, Hrovat's response was predictably humble.

"I never paid attention to where I stacked up with anyone else," Hrovat said. "Look, I had some great divers do great things at the national level. I'm proud of everything they accomplished. But what I'm really proud of is all the kids that came through this program that worked hard academically, no matter their natural ability at it, and earned their college degrees. The most rewarding part of my job, the thing that makes me smile when I reminisce, is seeing these kids grow up, get jobs and become parts of their communities."

"There is not a more decorated or successful coach to ever come through Clarion than Dave Hrovat," said Clarion head swimming & diving coach Bree Kelley. "Dave, thank you for your time, effort and continued success, and all of the memories. Most of all, congratulations! We are so happy for you and wish you the most enjoyable, relaxing, sun-filled retirement."

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