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Longtime coach grips for season-ending meets

Rutgers head diving coach Fred Woodruff continues to prepare his unit for the final stretch of the season, which includes the Big East and Zone Diving Championships.

Although the two most crucial meets for the Scarlet Knights still lie ahead, Woodruff, the longest-tenured coach on staff, brings experience that can help the team remain focused.

Training at this point in the season consists of ironing out areas that pose a threat to the team’s consistency, Woodruff said.

He oversaw four Knights divers collect scores last season at the Big East Championships, including a finalist. He brings senior co-captain Kate Kearney, sophomore Nicole Honey and juniors Olivia Harry and Nicole Scott to this year’s meet.

“This is a very strong team. The talent level is there and also the work ethic, and they really work hard and make changes,” Woodruff said. “They’re developing as divers, and it’s fun to watch. I think that their coachability makes them become consistent divers.”

Kearney expressed the support Woodruff has had for her during her four years at Rutgers, especially last spring during her shoulder rehabilitation.

Woodruff also helped transition Harry, a former swimmer who is diving in her first season of college competition.

The Knights compete on the platform this year for the first time in the Big East Championships.

“That’s really exciting for us to have that platform event and have scoring in that,” Woodruff said. “We’re really looking forward to being able to contribute that way.”

Woodruff has qualified divers for the NCAA Zone Championships in all 20 of his seasons at Rutgers.

The Knights have had 32 finalists and 25 consolation finalists in the Big East Championships under Woodruff since joining the conference in 1995.

“He’s been here over 20 years. He’s had tremendous results on the boards for his whole career,” said head coach Phil Spiniello. “Having a diving coach like that really allows the diving program to move forward every year that he’s here.”

Woodruff’s coaching career has spanned 35 years, including stints with his alma mater, Lehigh, as well as Seton Hall. He served as Junior Olympic Chairman of the New Jersey Association for seven years and is now the treasurer.

“I have a really good time coaching college athletes, and I enjoy the challenge of it all,” Woodruff said. “I’ve got a great facility to train in and a very supportive athletic department [at Rutgers].”

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