ANNAPOLIS, Maryland, May 9. JOE Suriano, who this spring completed his 35th season as the diving coach at the Naval Academy, has announced his retirement from the position.
“It is with mixed emotions that we learn of Joe's intention to retire after 35 years of excellence as a coach and educator at Navy,” said Naval Academy Director of Athletics Chet Gladchuk. “I know he and Patty have looked forward to the wonderful family opportunities that will come with more time at home. On the other hand, it will not be the same at the Academy without this kind and thoughtful gentleman's guidance, organizational skills, leadership and passion for a vocation he has loved for decades. A genuine legend will conclude a very distinguished and unparalleled career. One that inspired thousands on and off the deck of the pool in the spirit of character development, academic excellence and physical prowess. As a role model, Joe has set the bar and all of us are better because he did.”
“The U.S. Naval Academy is a powerful school that has the ability to open many doors,” said Suriano. “It has provided me with the opportunity and pleasure of working with past and present leaders and heroes of our military. I remember working with midshipmen who are now admirals.
“Winning in diving has always been very important. But it is how you go about striving for and attaining those wins —- maintaining respect for both our sport and our opponents while remembering we are always representing the Navy Academy —- that is truly important to all of us at Navy. That is one of the many reasons why I have been so proud to have coached here.
“I need to thank my divers who have made my time here so enjoyable, all of my fellow coaches and instructors of the physical education department and everyone who has been associated with the Naval Academy Athletic Association for making this such a rewarding and special place to work. I also want to thank my wife, Patty, and my sons, Doug and Mike ('05), for all of their support. Annapolis is a great place to raise a family, and our living and working here has been made even more special by the fact that the Naval Academy itself truly is a family.
“I look forward to watching from the stands in the future.”
“It has been an honor and a sincere privilege to share the pool deck with Joe,” said Navy men's swimming head coach Bill Roberts. “His career crosses into five different decades where he had the unique opportunity to work with both student athletes and members of the Brigade as a coach and educator. As a young coach who first arrived at Navy in 1997, he has been instrumental in my continued development as a coach and I am forever grateful to him.”
“Joe is a tremendous person, teacher, and coach,” said Navy women's swimming head coach John Morrison. “He has been so instrumental in the success of our programs since his arrival. There is no doubt that our daily adventures with Joe will be missed, but he can take pride in the leading one of the most successful programs on The Yard. We thank Joe for all that he has done for not only Navy swimming and diving, but also for all midshipmen through his efforts as a physical education instructor. He, Patty, and their family will always be remembered as one of the best. We look forward to hearing their cheers from the stands for years to come.”
Long respected as one of the top diving coaches in the country, Suriano saw 12 of his divers qualify for 22 NCAA Division I Championship meets and earn 15 All-America accolades in his tenure. Prior to the Navy women's program joining the Division I ranks in the 1991-92 season, his divers earned 15 NCAA Division II All-America certificates. This list of honorees includes Stacia Johnson, who won the 1991 NCAA Division II title on the three-meter board.
Additionally, his divers have totaled 27 Patriot League, 17 Eastern Swimming League and eight Colonial Athletic Association individual event titles, as well as 14 Patriot League Diver-of-the-Meet honors. This includes the 2007 and 2008 Patriot League Championship meets when his divers combined to sweep all four boards each year.
Suriano himself has been recognized as the Patriot League Coach of the Year four times and as the NCAA Division II Coach of the Year in 1991.
On the national and international levels, Suriano was named an International Olympic Committee diving expert in 1985 and conducted a 21-day clinic for 30 diving coaches in New Delhi, India. In 1994, he was named an official and an assistant diving coach for U.S. Diving at the Dive Canada International Championships. He served as an official in 1995 at the World University Games in Fukouka, Japan, and at the World Military Games in Rome, Italy, later that year. He also served as a diving coach at two U.S. Diving National Training Camps and was named to the 1995-96 U.S. Diving national coaching staff. Suriano directed the American diving team at the 1999 World Military Games in Zagreb, Croatia, then completed a term as the chairman of the NCAA Swimming and Diving Rules Sub-Committee in the fall of 2001.
Suriano arrived at Navy in the summer of 1978 after previous stops as the head coach at Eastern Michigan (1971-72) and Vanderbilt (1972-78). He earned a bachelor's degree from Michigan in 1970 and a master's degree from Eastern Michigan in 1978.
Suriano's impact on the Naval Academy and the Brigade of Midshipmen stretches beyond the diving well. He is a tenured professor in the physical education department and has led swimming classes at Navy since his arrival. He will continue to teach through the end of the 2013 fall term.
The Naval Academy Athletic Association is planning a tribute evening to Coach Suriano this fall in conjunction with the 2013 men's and women's swimming and diving meet versus Army on Dec. 12. Details will be announced in the fall closer to the date of the event.
A national search to hire the new diving coach for the 2013-14 season is underway.
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