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June 28, 2012

Pitt head diving coach Julian Krug spent June 19-23 in Federal Way, Wash., enjoying the U.S. Olympic Team Diving Trials. Julian served as an advisor for NBC’s production crew, while his wife Doe assisted in providing information for the commentators. Despite the fact that both Julian and Doe were working at the King County Aquatic Center, the couple also had a front row seat to proudly witness their daughter Cassidy earn a spot to represent the U.S. at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Cassidy, an 11-time NCAA champion at Stanford, will compete in her first-ever Olympics at the end of July. Following his return to campus this week, Julian talked about being a very proud father.

Q: Congratulations on Cassidy’s first-place finish on the 3-meter springboard at the Olympic Trials. How did it feel to watch Cassidy’s last dive and solidify a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team?

A: It really was a dream come true for her. In a sense it was my dream as well. It took a while for it to sink in, but I am the father of an Olympian! Cassidy accomplished this feat in style and with a purpose that was important to her. She wasn’t just trying to make the Olympic team. She wanted to also indicate that she knew she needed to dive well to medal at the Olympics. Cassidy’s goal is now to medal at the Olympics.

Q: Cassidy had a commanding lead after the prelims. Did you or your wife, Doe, offer any words of wisdom as parents or as coaches before, during or after the trials?

A: Before the finals we very simply stated to Cassidy that ‘we were her parents and we will be that on Monday no matter what happens. We also love and support her no matter what happens.’ I shared that she needed to begin focusing on what the next step was before that moment was over. Cassidy needed to set that next step up by performing even better. The idea was to continue letting to the world know she was ready for what was ahead.

Afterwards, we told her to enjoy this accomplishment for a few minutes. She then had to immediately recognize that this is only a step. The big competition was still to come. Yes, enjoy that you have made the Olympic team, but your work is not done.

Q: You and your wife Doe had other duties at the Olympic Trials, which included prepping the broadcast crew on the athletes. Can you talk briefly about some of your responsibilities?

A: Doe and I both worked with NBC this past week, but all three of us worked with NBC during the 2008 Olympics in Athens. We got Cassidy a job as a runner that summer. For the most part, I was in the truck with the producer tracking the competition and making sure the director had accurate information. Even during the semifinals, I was making sure the director and producer had all the information they needed. Doe, on the other hand, was up in the booth with the announcers supplying them with information during the entire competition. We were both pleased with our responsibilities all the way around.

Q: Since you were in the booth with the producer, did you feel like you were missing out on part of the experience of being Cassidy’s dad?

A: No, it wasn’t like that. They had a field day with me in the truck, as you would imagine. When Cassidy moved on to the finals they told me to get out there and watch it. I was able to cheer for her during the finals and just be a proud dad.

Q: Cassidy retired briefly after the 2008 trials after suffering an injury and missing a spot on the team. Can you talk about the conversation you had with Cassidy when she told you she wanted to train for the 2012 trials?

A: It was and has always been the same conversation. From the time she switched from gymnastics to diving, it was her choice. Cassidy knew that she was diving because she wanted to dive. If she didn’t want to, there was no pressure to continue. Cassidy received a scholarship to dive at Stanford and we told her the same thing. ‘If you want to dive, great. If you don’t, we will figure out a way to work things out and you don’t have to dive.’ Later when she said she wanted to retire, we said that is up to her. Then, we said ‘if you want to come back that’s fine. You are young enough and physically strong enough to do that.’ I agreed that it was probably a good idea. It fit with what she wanted to do. Cassidy missed being able to compete and train. Additionally, she didn’t feel she finished on as high of a note as she could have. Cassidy couldn’t accept that she didn’t make the Olympic team in 2008 when she knew she was capable of it. The thought of walking away didn’t meet her expectations.

Q: What can you take from watching Cassidy mature into an Olympian and share with your Pitt student-athletes?

A: It’s very simple. I will certainly use Cassidy as an example and promote what she has accomplished. We can point to Cassidy and tell every student-athlete that she got her start here at Pitt as a member of our club team. She trained hard, but it all started where they are. Our staff knows what needs to be done. We can be specific and say this is the training Cassidy is doing, these are the workouts and weight lifting schedule she completes. It has a lot to do with what each student-athlete believes. It’s easy to say, but the student-athletes have to hear it and mentally transfer it.

Q: How have you and your wife been able to juggle all of the hats you wear?

A: Honestly, Doe and I have played all three roles in Cassidy’s life her whole career. We have been her parents, served as coaches in the background of her coach (Dr.) Rick Schavone at Stanford and we have worked with NBC. We have held all of those roles comfortably. Everything just comes together and works out right. The fact of the matter is that Cassidy did all the work this past week. She did a tremendous job. Cassidy didn’t miss a dive in 15 chances. That is outstanding.

Q: Do you plan on attending the 2012 London Olympic Games?

A: Absolutely! Doe and I will be working with NBC again during the Olympic Games. You could say we were headed to London regardless, but it’s just nicer now. This will be the eighth time Doe has worked at the Olympics. She made her start in 1984 in Los Angeles. This month marks the sixth opportunity for me. It’s not a bad gig. Doe and I get paid to go watch diving at the Olympic Games.

Q: I noticed another familiar name at the trials this weekend. You previously trained Samantha Pickens who finished 12th in the same event. Did you get a chance to talk to her this past weekend?

A: I talked to Samantha during the trials. We were excited to see her and watch her compete. Samantha and her parents attended the party we had for Cassidy after the finals. They helped Cassidy celebrate. Samantha upgraded her list and made it more difficult than she probably needed to. She had an opportunity to finish as high as seventh, but she missed one or two of her bigger dives. I suspect Samantha will have a very good chance to make the Olympic team in four years. She is another credit to our program. Samantha is adjusting to where she is and performing better. If someone leaves our program and goes somewhere else and continues to get better, they are still from Pittsburgh. As a former member of our program, they do us honor when they succeed.

Pitt Diving Coach Julian Krug Reflects on Daughter's Run to Olympics

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