RIT Diving Coach Cliff Devries to be Featured on E:60 Special

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Screenshot of E:60 short on Cliff Devries; Photo Courtesy: E:60

A short 20-minute documentary on Division III RIT diving coach Cliff Devries will air on ESPN tonight, Tuesday October 29, at 9:00 p.m. EST. The documentary centers on Devries’ annual dive of the 3m springboard that he does on his birthday, which is tomorrow October 30.

Devries is currently in his 17th season as head diving coach of Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York. He currently is the director for Upstate New York Diving, the largest diving club in New York.

Trailer can be viewed here.

This emotional short film takes the viewer through a day in the life of Devries as he prepares himself for his annual jump off the 3m springboard on his birthday, October 30. He has done a dive off the 3m on his birthday every year for over 15 years.

Devries was a former diver at the University of Kentucky in the early 90s where he had Olympic aspirations. But those dreams quickly came crashing down around him when an MRI revealed he had a six-inch tumor that was pressing up against his spinal cord, causing him to lose the function of his shoulder and arm. Devries had a 13-hour surgery on his spinal cord at age 21, and doctors had told him he would be in a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

Determined to prove the doctors wrong, Devries started working with occupational therapists to do simple tasks on his own like feeding himself and getting dressed, and eventually learn to walk again.

Right after his surgery, Devries started coaching diving for his high school team, and eventually he landed the diving job at RIT alongside his childhood friend and RIT swim coach Phil Baretela, despite not being able to walk.

Devries is married to his wife Stephanie and they have one daughter Grace, who Cliff helps coach in a “learn-to-dive” class.

5 comments

  1. avatar
    Pat Marion

    What an inspiration to All who are trying too work with their disabilities.
    Happy Birthday and Many More ❤️

  2. avatar
    Mykki Newton

    I know this phrase is dreadfully overused, but Phil and this story were so inspiring to me. His quote about there being so much more to a person than meets the eye, really hit home to me.

    Thank you,
    Mykki Newton

    • Suzanne Rueppel Gagnon

      John Doyle thank you for posting this I will share it! We watched it last night ! He is an amazing coach and an inspiration. Robert was there today when he did his annual birthday dive:)

  3. Jim Bowser

    It was a great show. I was incredibly moved as a diver. I am glad he could bounce back.

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