Diving Legend Hobie Billingsley Remembers 1964 Olympic Tryouts

BLOOMINGTON, Indiana, December 18. RECENTLY, while trading recollections of diving events gone by, coaching legend Hobie Billingsley provided an interesting tale of motivation before the 1964 Olympic tryouts. We thought it would be nice to provide the anecdote to our readers.

Since the Olympics are soon upon us, there will probably be a lot of stories that refer to the Olympics gone by and here is a true short one. Just before 11 of my divers were to leave for the 1964 Olympic tryouts that were staged in New York, the team got together for a short discussion when someone asked me who I thought would make the Olympic team from our group. I started by saying Rick Gilbert had a great chance, and I named a couple of others when Ken Sitzberger popped up and said "Hey, how about me?" I casually replied that he would make the team, and proceeded to name a couple others when he interrupted me and said "Wait a minute, that's not good enough…how do you know I will make the team?" I again replied "Because I just know." Again, he got into my face and said "That's not good enough….I want proof!"

Getting a little exasperated I said "Okay, if I prove it to you, will you stop bothering me". With that remark, I took three coins out of my pocket and gave one coin to Rick Gilbert, one to Ken and I kept the third coin. I then told him that we were going to flip the three coins, only once, and the odd man will win, which will be you. I again reminded him that the coins would only be flipped once…period. We flipped the coins and Gilbert and I had heads and Ken had tails. He sort of went into shock as did I. He just stared at me as he said "You really do know" then walked away. I don't think I need mention that I never tried that again.

Billingsley is a legend within the sport of diving, and served as the head diving coach at Indiana University from 1959-89.