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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Diving coach’s successor named

Former Arizona diver Omar Ojeda is expected to take the place of diving instructor Michele Mitchell, who, after 15 years, has moved to the newly-created director of operations position for the swimming and diving teams.

After receiving 10 to 15 applicants, a hiring committee that included Mitchell interviewed three coaches and offered the job to Ojeda, who hails from Mexico City, Mexico.

“Omar was one of my former divers,” Mitchell said. “He bleeds red and blue, but that wasn’t why he was hired. He is one of the best young coaches in the world right now.”

The UA is in the process of obtaining a work visa for Ojeda and, as a result, Mitchell has been forced to pull double duty, working as both the diving instructor and director of operations.
Because the hire is not yet official, Ojeda was unavailable for comment.

“He is patiently waiting,” Mitchell said. “He’s not really involved with the program right now because he can’t be. The process should be complete this week. The minute it is done, he can come on board officially.”

As a coach in Mexico, Ojeda produced an Olympic bronze medalist and a world junior diving champion, Mitchell said. His familiarity with Arizona will make the move to NCAA diving a smooth one.

“Mexico has a lot of good divers and a lot of that was because of him,” she added.

“He knows how we do things,” she added. “He already understands the system that is in place here at Arizona. All the kids know him because he is an alumni and they have seen him at many meets.”

Mitchell will handle more of the logistics for both the swimming and diving teams in her position, put in place by first-year head swimming coach Eric Hansen.

“He asked me if I would write a job description and what my thoughts were on it since I’d been here so long,” Mitchell said of developing the new job.

According to Mitchell, once the position was officially created, Hansen gave her the option of staying on as the diving instructor or becoming the director of operations. She chose the latter, and her position will focus primarily on the business aspect of the sport as opposed to the coaching.

“I make the program work as a business. It interfaces with everybody else in the athletic department because now you’re involving lots of money and hotel contracts and flight info and injuries and medical issues and all kinds of stuff,” Mitchell said.

Still, Mitchell has been coaching the diving program for the past 15 years, and she expects to stick around the pool deck.

“I still can coach,” Mitchell said. “That was a part of me taking this job, that they would count me as one of their countable staff.

“It allows me to recruit and coach, so I can still be part of it all down at the deck but the only difference in my position is that I don’t have to do that,” she said. “It’s not my primary job but I can do it.”

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