Fourth Season as Co-Head Coach (12th at LSU)
The LSU diving program is one of storied tradition, and no one has had a more profound impact in the Tigers’ recent success than Doug Shaffer.
Entering his 12th overall season with LSU, Shaffer was promoted to co-head coach of the men’s and women’s swimming and diving programs along with Dave Geyer in April 2010 and enters his fourth season as head diving coach.
After three seasons, Shaffer and Geyer have LSU on the path to becoming one of the nation’s elite programs. During the 2012-13 season, both programs enjoyed postseason success with one female diver and one male diver qualifying for the NCAA Championships. In addition, all seven divers scored points at the SEC Championships in every event they competed in.
Known for having an eye for talent, Shaffer scours the country for gifted divers who fit the program and molds them into some of LSU’s most successful student-athletes. In his previous 11 years, Shaffer has produced 14 NCAA All-Americans, two Southeastern Conference champions, an SEC Diver of the Year and seven SEC Freshman Divers of the Year.
Freshman Cassie Weil showed that her time as a Tiger was going to be a success after setting LSU’s three-meter record (372.68) in her first collegiate dual. Weil excelled in her first collegiate season, picking up a pair of NCAA Honorable Mention All-American honors and scoring 11 team points at the NCAA Championships. At NCAA’s, the Hillsboro, Ore., native dove to 11th on the three-meter with a total of 337.50 and to 12th on the platform with a score of 287.15.
Weil qualified for NCAA’s on the three-meter at the NCAA Zone ‘D’ Diving Regional with a 12-line total of 662.70, including a six-line final round total of 345.80. At Zone’s, she posted LSU’s second best all-time platform score of 299.10. She was named Shaffer’s seventh SEC Freshman Diver of the Year after finishing in the top-eight in two events (fifth on the three-meter and sixth on the platform) at the conference championships and named to the SEC All Freshman Team.
Junior Sean McKinney showed the potential in his third season that Shaffer had been praising since the moment McKinney stepped on campus. The Springfield, Va., native set the LSU all-time three-meter record with a score of 415.50 and qualified for his first career NCAA Championships. At the NCAA Zone ‘D’ Diving Regionals, McKinney qualified for the NCAA Championships with a fourth place finish on the three-meter with a 12-line total of 769.95, including his second career best three-meter score of 393.60 in the final round.
At the SEC Championships, McKinney placed fourth on the three-meter with a score of 391.40. Over the course of the season, McKinney set his career bests on all three boards. During the NCAA Championships, McKinney finished in the top-18 on the three-meter and the platform.
Junior diver Daniel Helm put together a fine SEC Championships and captured the bronze medal on the one-meter with a season best score of 372.10. The Beaverton, Ore., native took fifth on the platform with a score of 352.90 after totaling 360.45 in prelims. During the season, Helm totaled his career best on the platform with LSU’s all-time second best score of 369.90 at the Phil Hansel Invite.
Sophomore Alex Bettridge competed to fourth on the one-meter at the SEC Championships with a total of 301.85. The Austin, Texas native narrowly missed qualifying for the championship final on the three-meter and ended her run in ninth place with a score of 313.15 at SEC’s. Bettridge took seventh on the one-meter with a 12-line total of 561.35 at the NCAA Zone ‘D’ Regional Championships.
Junior Kevin Leong narrowly missed qualifying for the NCAA Championships after ending his platform run in fifth with a 12-line total of 675.20 and LSU’s third best all-time score of 349.90, derived from his six-line final round, at the NCAA Zone ‘D’ Diving Regionals. The Edmonton, Alberta, Canada native made his first career SEC Championship final on the one-meter and finished in eighth with a final round score of 310.15 after registering a prelim round score of 314.15.
Senior Elle Schmidt put together her best year with career best finishes at the SEC Championships. Schmidt finished 10th on the one-meter (282.75) and 11th on the platform (243.10) at the conference championships. Freshman Allie Alter added depth by scoring on all three boards at SEC’s.
In 2012, Bettridge and Helm added their names to the prominent divers that have come through LSU. Both divers became NCAA Honorable-Mention All-Americans after scoring points at the NCAA Championships.
Helm became LSU's 13th NCAA All-American on the platform after diving to a 12th place finish with a total of 324.50 at NCAA’s. The Beaverton, Ore. native showed his diversity in different events after capturing a silver medal at the SEC Championships on the one-meter springboard with the program's second highest all-time score of 376.55. His performance earned him All-SEC Second Team honors.
Bettridge became Shaffer’s sixth SEC Freshman Diver of the Year and was named to the SEC All-Freshman Team. She set the program's three-meter dive record (366.85) with a bronze medal performance at the SEC Championships. She also dove to sixth in the one-meter with a total of 302.60 at SEC's, which is the seventh best in the program’s history.
Bettridge placed 15th on the three-meter with a score of 306.30 at the NCAA Championships, earning NCAA Honorable Mention All American honors. The Austin, Texas native qualified for the NCAA Championships after scoring a 12-dive total of 578.20 in a fourth place finish on the one-meter at the NCAA Zone 'D' Diving Regionals.
During the 2011-12 campaign, any LSU diver had a chance at earning victory in every event. All six divers qualified for the NCAA Zone ‘D’ Diving Regional.
Senior Matt Vieke finished up his illustrious career with his best collegiate season. Following his senior season, Vieke possessed the program's third best three-meter (388.20), fifth best one-meter (352.60) and fourth best platform (314.75) scores. He secured his first championship final at SEC Championships and posted a fifth place performance on the one-meter (352.60).
Moreover, Shaffer’s divers continue to shine academically as his athletes have been awarded LSU Scholar-Athlete of the Year honors four times, and numerous divers have received prestigious post-graduate scholarships. Vieke was named the Tiger Athletic Foundation Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year and a recipient of the Wally Pontiff Jr., Academic Excellence Award during his junior season. The Indianapolis, Ind. native was named a finalist for the prestigious SEC H. Boyd McWorther Post-Graduate Scholarship his senior year and graduated with a perfect 4.0 cumulative grade point average in management.
The LSU diving corps embarked upon another successful season in 2010-11, helping both the men’s and women’s teams register top-five finishes at the SEC Championships for the first time since 2000.
Furthermore, all six divers -- including four underclassmen -- qualified and competed at the NCAA Zone Diving Regional, while Helm developed into one of the conference’s top newcomers.
After a fine first-year campaign in which she garnered SEC Freshman Diver of the Year honors, St. Germain took her craft to another level, capturing a silver medal and breaking the program record in the one-meter springboard with a phenomenal performance at SEC’s.
Helm emerged as yet another impact freshman performer for the LSU diving program, claiming fifth-place in the men’s three-meter at SEC’s and receiving SEC All-Freshmen Team recognition. Helm also posted program top-five scores in all three events and was named SEC Male Diver of the Week on two separate occasions during the regular season.
In addition to St. Germain and Helm, Vieke barely missed qualifying for the NCAA Championships after his fine effort at the Zone ‘D’ Regional where he was tabbed the first alternate to NCAA’s, while junior Brian Gemberling, Schmidt and McKinney each contributed points at the conference meet with top-16 finishes.
Vieke, McKinney and Schmidt also tallied career-best and program top-10 scores at different points in the season.
Prior to his promotion, Shaffer served eight seasons as LSU’s diving coach where he maintained the program’s tradition of excellence.
In 2009-10, St. Germain became the fifth LSU diver in six seasons to emerge as the SEC Freshman Diver of the Year and was named to the SEC All-Freshmen Team, while Gemberling proved to be one of the most improved divers in the SEC in his sophomore campaign.
A native of Levittown, Pa., Gemberling placed sixth in both springboard events at the 2010 SEC Championships, broke the school record in the three-meter (393.07) in a dual-meet against Texas A&M and claimed program top-five marks in the one-meter and platform.
In 2008-09, the Tigers’ diving coach helped one of his athletes earn an invitation to the NCAA Championships for the seventh-consecutive season as senior Niko Dalman competed at the national meet for the third time in his career. Dalman also added the school’s one-meter record to his collection and finished his career as the LSU record-holder in both the one- and three-meter springboard events.
The 2007-08 season proved to be Shaffer’s finest season as the Tigers’ diving coach. Shaffer coached sophomore Rachel Ware to her third All-America accolade in two years with a 12th-place finish in the one-meter springboard at NCAA’s. His athletes also had a superb showing at SEC’s as a conference-high four LSU divers received medals for placing in the top three of their respective events.
Ware and senior Paige Brown enjoyed two of the best competitions of their careers at that meet with both departing Tuscaloosa, Ala., as conference champions. Ware won the one-meter championship and captured the runner-up spot in the three-meter en route to SEC Female Diver of the Year honors. Brown beat out 20 other competitors to take the platform title with a school-record score of 300.30.
Both were also named to the All-SEC First Team, the first Lady Tigers to receive all-conference recognition since 2003. Shaffer earned the SEC Women’s Diving Coach of the Year award for his efforts in guiding the duo to conference excellence.
Under Shaffer’s tutelage, the men’s side finished second in the points standings among diving teams at the conference meet, and a pair of Tiger divers reached the awards podium with record-shattering performances. Dalman took home a medal in the three-meter springboard, breaking a then-LSU record in the event with a score of 391.55 to place third. Freshman Michael Neubacher followed two days later with a runner-up finish in the platform competition, crushing the school record with a robust six-dive total of 431.55.
Neubacher, the SEC’s highest scoring freshman, joined Ware, Dalman and Nathan Schreiber as the fourth-straight athlete in the Shaffer era to earn the distinction as the conference’s top freshman diver.
Outside the pool, Brown truly exemplified the meaning of a student-athlete, joining a long list of former LSU divers who have excelled at the highest levels academically. The Zionsville, Ind., native, who graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in biological engineering, became the third LSU diver in two seasons to be named a finalist for the esteemed SEC H. Boyd McWhorter Post-graduate Scholarship. Former standouts Hali Saucier and Andrew Keane were nominated in 2007.
She was also the first athlete in school history to earn a spot in the exclusive Tiger Twelve, which recognizes 12 graduating seniors who have shown great academic success and contributed significantly to the Baton Rouge community, and received the Wally Pontiff Jr. Academic Excellence Award, which goes to the school’s top scholar-athletes. In addition, Brown registered the team’s highest grade point average and was selected to give the commencement speech at the engineering school’s graduation in 2008.
Shaffer’s list of Tiger All-Americans began in 2002-03 upon his arrival. His guidance enabled three divers to earn five NCAA All-American performances, including junior Jessica Wantz and seniors Barb Gorst and Kyle VanArsdall. Wantz finished fourth in the three-meter springboard. Both Gorst and VanArsdall scored in the top-16 in the platform.
The following season Shaffer guided Wantz to a third-place finish overall in the three-meter at NCAA’s, which gave her first-team All-America honors. A third career All-America finish followed in the one-meter.
In 2004-05, Dalman entered his freshman season with little experience. Seven months later, he embarked on a 12th-place finish as an All-American in the one-meter. He also became the first diver in school history to be named SEC Freshman Diver of the Year. Dalman added to his accolades with a top-12 finish in the platform at the 2006 NCAA Championships.
Shaffer was no stranger to leading a successful collegiate diving program before taking the job in Baton Rouge. He was the head coach at UCLA in 1988-89 and then at the University of Minnesota from 1989-96.
Shaffer experienced a great deal of success at Minnesota as he was honored as Big Ten Diving Coach of the Year three times – twice on the women’s side and once for the men’s team. Shaffer coached 11 Big Ten champions, 29 All-Americans and two NCAA champions while at Minnesota. He was named NCAA Diving Coach of the Year in 1993. Shaffer also coached three Pac-10 champions and four All-Americans during his tenure at UCLA.
He has coached the United States in numerous international competitions since 1989, including the U.S. National Diving teams in China, Sweden, Spain and the United States. Shaffer served as the assistant competition manager during the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta and was recruited to be the head diving coach at the Sheffield, England, High Performance Center. There, he coached five Olympians on the Lottery Funded World Class Performance Program but declined a four-year contract extension for the opportunity to coach at LSU.
Shaffer graduated from UCLA in 1986 with a B.A. degree in history. He was an 11-time U.S. National champion, the 1986 NCAA Diver of the Year and the NCAA one-meter and three-meter champion in 1986 for the Bruins. One of the few divers to defeat the legendary Greg Louganis, Shaffer ousted the four-time Olympian five times in 1987, three of which were in U.S. National competition.
Shaffer was a silver medalist in the three-meter at the 1987 Pan American Games and won a gold medal at the 1987 USA-USSR dual meet in the three-meter competition. An Olympic Trials finalist in 1984 and 1988, he retired from competition in 1988 and moved into the nation’s coaching ranks.
Shaffer is a native of Canton, Ohio and is married to Dr. Tracy Stephenson Shaffer, an LSU associate professor in communication studies. The couple has a seven-year-old daughter, Sara Melissa.
THE DOUG SHAFFER FILE
Born: July 8, 1963 in Baltimore, Md.
Wife: Tracy Stephenson Shaffer
Child: Sara Melissa (7)
High School: Mission Viejo High School, Mission Viejo, Calif.
College: UCLA; B.A. in History, 1986
Records and Achievements at LSU
2008 SEC Women’s Diving Coach of the Year
1 SEC Diver of the Year
2 SEC Champions
7 All-SEC selections
14 NCAA All-Americans
7 SEC Freshman Divers of the Year
6 NCAA All-America honors collected by freshmen
5 NCAA All-Americans in his first season (2002-03)
4 SEC H. Boyd McWhorter Scholar-Athlete Post-graduate Scholarship finalists
4 LSU Scholar-Athlete of the Year recipients
5 Divers who recorded team-high grade point averages
2 NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship recipient
1 ESPN Academic All-American
1 Tiger Twelve Honoree