Hobert Sherwood Billingsley (a.k.a. Hobie) was born December 2nd, 1926 in Erie, PA.
Against all odds to be a success, Hobie overcame insurmountable odds to become the World’s Greatest Diving Coach in the history of the sport.
At the young age of 3 his father walked out on the family leaving him and his older brother and mother penniless during the Great Depression. He fought through hunger and homelessness with the help of two men who mentored him at the Erie, Pennsylvania YMCA.
At an early age, he taught himself to swim and when the team needed a diver he tried out and liked the challenge. Eventually he would also become a gymnast and cheerleader for the high school.
As his diving skills improved to become the PA state high school champion, the coach suggested he compete at the National AAU Championships. There, the top divers who competed for Ohio State University gave him pointers he could take back to his coach, and he became the first high school diver to place in the finals of a national championship.
He enrolled at Ohio State and became the first All-American for all four years. World War II called him into service in Okinawa where the war with Japan ended and he could resume his college diving career.
After college, Hobie and another Ohio State diver, Bruce Harlan, formed a clown diving act and toured all over the United States performing shows at schools, hotels, and country clubs. Tragically, Bruce, died in a freak accident dismantling scaffolding that supported a small trampolet to do high dives in their shows.
Hobie then partnered up with Dick Kimball who also replaced Bruce as the first diving coach ever hired by a college or university. After a short high school coaching stint, Hobie became only the 2nd diving coach ever hired by a college or university.
In 1959, he came to Indiana University to start an unequaled diving dynasty that continues today. He started with very poor facilities and no committed divers with any skills, and within two years produced his first national champion in Rick Gilbert that attracted other great talent to the school when they moved into the new Royer Pool facility in 1960
He was the first to coach women in any sport, and did so without pay well before Title IX guaranteed equal rights for women athletes in 1972.
Along with head swimming coach, Doc Counsilman, together they won 23 Big Ten Championships and 6 NCAA Division I titles.
Hobie was selected as the Olympic Diving Coach 5 times and coached 132 National Champions. After retiring in 1989 he gave diving clinics and judged major competitions all over the world, and in 1996 was selected to administer the Olympic Oath to all the judges at the Atlanta Olympics – a great honor.
His leadership was evident by forming the World Diving Coaches Association and the United States Diving Coaches Association. In 1983, he received the high honor of being inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame.
He continues to have a profound effect on the diving community with the publication of – Competitive Diving Illustrated and Competitive Diving Guide for Coaches, Divers, Judges, and lectures to divers in summer camps, high school students, and collegiate athletic departments.
Today, Hobie is an icon in all of sport.
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