After six seasons on the Hill, Ron Kontura, head coach of the men’s and women’s diving teams and aquatic director, is no longer with the program, according to Director of Athletics, Fitness and Recreation Jill McCartney.
In an email to the Collegian, McCartney did not comment on the reason for Kontura’s departure, writing, “Please be assured that any changes to our coaching staff come after much deliberation and careful consideration for the success of the program.” The move comes just weeks into the Owls’ 2023-24 season, with the men’s team looking to continue its NCAC title defense and the women’s team hoping to return to the top of the podium. The Kenyon diving team declined to comment on the situation.
Prior to his arrival at Kenyon, Kontura compiled a lengthy coaching resume. After graduating from Ohio University in 1991, Kontura began his coaching career with a stint as the head diving coach at Allegheny College in 1994-95. The following season, Kontura headed north to coach at the University of Michigan as an assistant coach, before becoming the head coach at Illinois State University. Kontura led the Redbirds from 1996 to 2000, during which time he coached four divers to qualify for the Junior Olympics. After serving as head coach for Mission Viejo Nadadores Diving, Kontura spent three seasons as the diving coach at the University of California-Berkeley (Cal). He left Cal in 2006 to become the diving coach at the United States Military Academy (West Point). According to the Athletics department website, Kontura “led all aspects of the [West Point] program, including athlete development, recruitment and compliance.” Immediately prior to his arrival in Gambier, Kontura served as a coach for the diving club at The Ohio State University.
Kontura’s arrival on the Hill in 2017 marked a run of historic success for Kenyon’s divers. In a Collegian article from his first season with the team, athletes in the program described how Kontura’s unconventional style of coaching — which incorporated a focus on cardio from his time at West Point and changed the structure and timing of practices — helped them become “better divers than [they] were last season.” In that season, Ryder Sammons ’19 earned North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) Diver of the Year honors, the first Kenyon diver to win the award since 1997. Drew Albrecht ’23 took home the NCAC Diver of the Year award two years later. More recently, Israel Zavaleta ’24 has taken the men’s team’s success to a higher echelon. After collecting NCAC Diver of the Year honors in 2022, Zavaleta earned Kenyon’s first CSCAA Division III Diver of the Year honors since 1995 after earning first place in the 1- and 3-meter events, before repeating his performance in 2023. For his coaching, Kontura earned both NCAC and NCAA Coach of the Year honors in 2022 and 2023.
Currently, Stan Randall, who has been with the program since the beginning of the season, is serving as a volunteer assistant diving coach. “We are pleased that [Randall] will continue to bring his 20-plus years of experience as a [D-III] diving coach to Kenyon,” McCartney said.
With the 2023-24 season just beginning, McCartney emphasized the importance of stability for the diving team: “We are committed to ensuring that there is no disruption of the season for our student-athletes and expect to announce an interim diving coach soon.”