Doug Shaffer Season 2023-24
Officially Announced His Retirement on April 14, 2022
The LSU diving program is one of storied tradition, and no one has had a more profound impact on the Tigers’ recent success than Doug Shaffer. Shaffer officially announced his retirement from his position as the head diving coach following the 2021-22 season on April 14, 2022.
During his final season leading the diving Tigers, Shaffer didn’t hold back as he led six divers to the NCAA Championships in Atlanta. While there, Juan Celaya-Hernandez had two bronze finishes, which earned him two All-American honors. Celaya-Hernandez finished his storied LSU career under Shaffer with eight All-American honors and four honorable mentions. On the women’s side at nationals, four divers competed in the purple and gold. Montserrat Gutierrez Lavenant and Anne Tuxen both earned Honorable Mention All-American honors after battling it out on one meter and platform consolation finals, respectively.
Shaffer earned his third postseason award with his second SEC Female Diving Coach of the Year award being handed to him by the league office. In doing so, Shaffer’s diver Chiara Pellacani, who only joined the program in Spring 2022 was named the Female Freshman Diver of the Year. Pellacani, who became the third diver to participate in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics swept the springboard events in her first meet against Texas A&M and claimed two silvers at the SEC meet on both springboards.
In the regular season, Shaffer saw incredible success at the in-season diving invitationals including the Texas Diving Invite and the Auburn Diving Invite. Shaffer’s divers saw many personal records fall throughout the season with Gutierrez Lavenant and Pellacani both joining an LSU all-time top-10 score list. Gutierrez Lavenant sits at 10th on three-meter and seventh on one-meter, while Pellacani quickly joined the top-10 on both springboards at fifth on three-meter and ninth on one-meter.
Entering his 20th overall season with LSU, Shaffer was promoted to co-head coach of the men’s and women’s swimming and diving programs along with former Swimming Head Coach Dave Geyer in April 2010 and enters his eleventh season as head diving coach. Shaffer welcomed newly-hired swimming coach Rick Bishop for his first season in Baton Rouge for the 2021-22 competitive schedule.
During the 2020-21 season, Shaffer’s divers shined on the boards, as two current Tigers qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Celaya-Hernandez, one of the most decorated divers to come through LSU and a representative of Mexico, qualified alongside his partner Yahel Castillo in the three-meter synchronized diving event. Anne Tuxen, a budding star in the diving program and a representative of Norway, qualified in the Women’s platform diving event. She became the first female diver to represent Norway since 1988. The addition of Celaya-Hernandez and Tuxen to the list of Olympic divers at LSU pushed Shaffer’s total to three while at the helm of the program.
In the postseason, Celaya-Hernandez wrapped another successful NCAA appearance. He qualified for the consolation final on the platform diving event and earned fifth place. At the conclusion of NCAA’s, the SEC announced Celaya-Hernandez as the Male Diver of the Year for the second time and was placed on the All-SEC First team. Montserrat Gutierrez Lavenant was named the Freshman Female Diver of the Year and was named to the All-SEC Freshman team.
At the 2021 SEC Championships, Celaya-Hernandez collected gold on the one-meter springboard and the three-meter. Tuxen placed fourth on the three-meter final.
At the beginning of the 2020-21 season, Celaya-Hernandez and Gutierrez Lavenant swept the springboard events during the Alabama meet. Manny Vazquez Bas placed second on the three-meter and third on the one-meter, while Dakota Hurbis placed fourth on the three-meter and fifth on the one-meter. Celaya-Hernandez added two more victories on the one-meter springboard at the Texas Diving Invitational and the Auburn meet. Gutierrez Lavenant and the Tuxen sisters joined Celaya-Hernandez with impressive placements on the one-meter, finishing third, fourth and sixth, respectively.
The 2019-2020 season looked to have a storied ending as three divers, Manny Vazquez Bas, Aimee Wilson, and Anne Tuxen all qualified for the 2020 NCAA Championships under the direction of Shaffer. Unfortunately, the season was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, that did not dismiss the incredible season by the LSU divers.
Wilson was named to the All-SEC Second Team. She qualified for the NCAA Championships in two events after a successful start to championship season. At the 2020 SEC Championships, she claimed the silver on one-meter with a score of 320.75, finished in sixth place on three-meter with a score of 327.60, and finished in 10th place on platform with a score of 245.25… At the 2020 NCAA Zone D Championships, she finished in second place on the three-meter with a score of 683.10 and seventh place on one-meter with a score of 565.75, qualifying for the 2020 NCAA Championships on both boards.
Vazquez Bas was named Co-Male Freshman Diver of the Year and was named to the All-SEC Second Team as well as the All-Freshman Team. He earned the bronze on platform with a score of 393.60, finished in seventh place on three-meter with a score of 345.00, and 11th place on one-meter with a score of 304.30. He was the only freshman diver who medaled and scored more points than any other freshman diver at the SEC Championships. At the 2020 NCAA Zone D Diving Regional, he qualified for the NCAA Championships on three-meter as well as platform. On three-meter, he dove to a total score of 709.55 to finish in fifth place. He dove to a score of 729.40 on platform to finish in 3rd, which secured his second NCAA berth.
For Tuxen at the 2020 SEC Championships, she finished in 12th place on platform with a score of 238.40, 15th place on one-meter with a score of 251.10, and 18th on three-meter with a score of 271.70. At the 2020 NCAA Zone D Diving Regional, she finished in ninth place on platform with a score of 500.00 and 12th place on three-meter with a score of 577.70, qualifying for the 2020 NCAA Championships in both events.
The 2018-19 season was one of the most successful campaigns for Shaffer and the diving Tigers. Five Tigers qualified for the 2019 NCAA Championships. Juan Celaya-Hernandez qualified for all three events, Matt McClellan qualified for both springboard events and, Matthew Phillip qualified for the three-meter springboard and the platform. On the women’s side, Lizzie Cui and Aimee Wilson qualified for both springboard events while Wilson also qualified for the platform.
Celaya-Hernandez won the one-meter consolation final with a score of 362.20. He then earned his first-ever podium finish at the NCAA Championships on platform with a score of 435.80 to claim the bronze and the title of an NCAA All-American. Lizzie Cui finished in sixth place on the one-meter with a score of 300.30 to also earn the title of an NCAA All-American.
At the 2019 SEC Championships, Celaya-Hernandez took home the gold on the one-meter with a score of 440.30. He then took home the bronze on platform with a score of 409.35. Matt McClellan finished in ninth place on three-meter with a score of 380.10. Matthew Phillip finished in eighth place on the three-meter with a score of 386.35 and fourth place on the platform with a score of 380.00.
For the women, Cui claimed the silver at the SEC Championships on one-meter after diving to a score of 349.35 and on three-meter with a score of 388.40. Wilson, took home the bronze on one-meter after diving to a score of 316.85.
In 2016-17, the diving team reached new heights. For the first time in program history, four male divers qualified for the NCAA Championships, the most in school history. Andrew Suchla and Juan Celaya-Hernandez, along with women’s diver Lizzie Cui, earned All-American honors for their performances in Indianapolis.
Celaya-Hernandez shattered all three LSU records in his rookie season and finished third and ninth at NCAAs in the one-meter and three-meter, respectively. The SEC platform champion and runner-up on both springboards, Celaya-Hernandez was named the 2017 SEC Male Freshman Diver of the Year.
Suchla qualified for NCAAs for the first time in his career as a senior. He finished 14th on the one-meter board and 30th off of the three-meter event in Indianapolis.
In her sophomore season, Cui set the LSU record in the three-meter and was the runner-up at the 2017 SEC Championships. She would go on the finish fifth in three-meter and 17th in the one-meter and platform at the NCAA Championships.
Shaffer was named the 2016-17 SEC Men’s Diving Coach of the Year based on his team’s success in the diving well.
The 2016 season capped off one of the most successful career in the school’s diving history. In total, Cassie Weil set school records on three-meter and platform, was a two-time NCAA First Team All-American, a four-time NCAA All-American and SEC Champion on platform.
During her senior season, Weil earned first-team honors on platform after a fifth-place finish on platform. The Oregon native’s six All-America honors rank eighth-most in school history and fourth-most by a diver.
In addition, Shaffer helped lead freshman and Olympian Lizzie Cui to NCAA Honorable Mention All-America honors on three-meter. After NCAA’s, Cui went on to represent New Zealand in the Rio Games.
The men finished another successful season under Shaffer. Andrew Suchla along with newcomers Matthew Phillip and Matt McClellan scored at SEC Championships and all three finished with top-15 finishes at NCAA Zone Diving Regionals.
During the 2014-15 season, the men and women earned five SEC medals, set an SEC record, broke three school records and earned two NCAA Honorable Mention All-America honors.
Alex Bettridge led the Lady Tigers with one of the best postseason performances in school history. Bettridge was named the Female Diver of the Meet for efforts at SEC Championships. The Austin, Texas native was the SEC champion on one-meter after breaking the SEC and school record with a score of 350.30. Also during the meet, Bettridge finished second on three-meter and third on platform. She became the highest point earner in school history at the meet.
During her junior campaign, Weil was crowned SEC Champion on platform with a school-record score of 331.70. The Oregon native also finished fourth on three-meter at SEC’s. Weil concluded her season as an NCAA All-American, the fifth honor of her career.
Daniel Helm provided a strong point scorer for the men at SEC’s. Helm earned silver on both one-meter and platform at the meet. Helm’s score of 411.30 on one-meter was a school record and Helm went on to qualify for NCAA Championships at Zone Diving Regionals.
Madison Sthamann made an immediate impact and became the 12th All-American on platform for LSU. Sthamann finished fifth on platform at SEC Championships. Early on in her freshman campaign, Sthamann set the third-highest platform score in school history at the Texas A&M Invite.
During the 2013-14 season, the men and women smashed three school records. Weil qualified for NCAA Championships where she earned an NCAA First-Team All-American honor on platform behind a program record score of 311.55.
Weil also earned her third Honorable Mention All-American honor, this time on three-meter. At SEC Championships, Weil secured bronze medals on both platform and three-meter and brought home a second team All-SEC honor. Bettridge provided another solid year on the women’s side, setting the program record on one-meter.
Sean McKinney and Kevin Leong finished their careers out strong. McKinney posted career-high scores during all three events, which included a program record 425.70 on the three-meter. McKinney notched the second-best platform score on platform during prelims of the SEC Championships
During the 2012-13 season, both programs enjoyed postseason success with one female diver and one male diver qualifying for the NCAA Championships. In addition, all seven divers scored points at the SEC Championships in every event they competed in.
Weil showed that her time as a Tiger was going to be a success after setting LSU’s three-meter record (372.68) in her first collegiate dual. Weil excelled in her first collegiate season, picking up a pair of NCAA Honorable Mention All-American honors and scoring 11 team points at the NCAA Championships. At NCAA’s, the Hillsboro, Oregon native dove to 11th on the three-meter with a total of 337.50 and to 12th on the platform with a score of 287.15.
Weil was named Shaffer’s seventh SEC Freshman Diver of the Year after finishing in the top-eight in two events (fifth on the three-meter and sixth on the platform) at the conference championships and named to the SEC All-Freshman Team.
McKinney showed the potential in his third season that Shaffer had been praising since the moment McKinney stepped on campus. The Springfield, Virginia native set the LSU all-time three-meter record with a score of 415.50 and qualified for his first career NCAA Championships
Helm put together a fine SEC Championships and captured the bronze medal on the one-meter with a season-best score of 372.10. Helm took fifth on the platform with a score of 352.90 after totaling 360.45 in prelims. During the season, Helm totaled his career-best on the platform with LSU’s all-time second best score of 369.90 at the Phil Hansel Invite.
Bettridge competed to fourth on the one-meter at the SEC Championships with a total of 301.85. The Austin, Texas native narrowly missed qualifying for the championship final on the three-meter and ended her run in ninth place with a score of 313.15 at SEC’s.
Senior Elle Schmidt put together her best year with career best finishes at the SEC Championships. Schmidt finished 10th on the one-meter (282.75) and 11th on the platform (243.10) at the conference championships. Freshman Allie Alter added depth by scoring on all three boards at SEC’s.
In 2012, Bettridge and Helm added their names to the prominent divers that have come through LSU. Both divers became NCAA Honorable-Mention All-Americans after scoring points at the NCAA Championships.
Helm became LSU’s 13th NCAA All-American on the platform after diving to a 12th place finish with a total of 324.50 at NCAA’s. Helm showed his diversity in different events after capturing a silver medal at the SEC Championships on the one-meter springboard with the program’s second-highest all-time score of 376.55. His performance earned him All-SEC second team honors.
Bettridge became Shaffer’s sixth SEC Freshman Diver of the Year and was named to the SEC All-Freshman team. She set the program’s three-meter dive record (366.85) with a bronze medal performance at the SEC Championships.
Bettridge placed 15th on the three-meter with a score of 306.30 at the NCAA Championships, earning NCAA Honorable Mention All American honors.
During the 2011-12 campaign, any LSU diver had a chance at earning victory in every event. All six divers qualified for the NCAA Zone ‘D’ Diving Regional.
Senior Matt Vieke finished up his illustrious career with his best collegiate season. Following his senior season, Vieke possessed the program’s third-best three-meter (388.20), fifth-best one-meter (352.60) and fourth-best platform (314.75) scores. He secured his first championship final at SEC Championships and posted a fifth place performance on the one-meter (352.60).
Vieke was named the Tiger Athletic Foundation Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year and a recipient of the Wally Pontiff Jr., Academic Excellence Award during his junior season. The Indianapolis, Indiana native was named a finalist for the prestigious SEC H. Boyd McWorter Post-Graduate Scholarship his senior year and graduated with a perfect 4.0 cumulative grade point average in management.
The LSU diving corps embarked upon another successful season in 2010-11, helping both the men’s and women’s teams register top-five finishes at the SEC Championships for the first time since 2000.
Furthermore, all six divers — including four underclassmen — qualified and competed at the NCAA Zone Diving Regional, while Helm developed into one of the conference’s top newcomers.
After a fine first-year campaign in which she garnered SEC Freshman Diver of the Year honors, Rebecca St. Germain took her craft to another level, capturing a silver medal and breaking the program record in the one-meter springboard with a phenomenal performance at SEC’s.
Helm emerged as yet another impact freshman performer for the LSU diving program, claiming fifth-place in the men’s three-meter at SEC’s and receiving SEC All-Freshmen team recognition.
In addition to St. Germain and Helm, Vieke barely missed qualifying for the NCAA Championships after his fine effort at the Zone ‘D’ Regional where he was tabbed the first alternate to NCAA’s, while junior Brian Gemberling, Schmidt and McKinney each contributed points at the conference meet with top-16 finishes.
Prior to his promotion, Shaffer served eight seasons as LSU’s diving coach where he maintained the program’s tradition of excellence.
In 2009-10, St. Germain became the fifth LSU diver in six seasons to emerge as the SEC Freshman Diver of the Year and was named to the SEC All-Freshmen team, while Gemberling proved to be one of the most improved divers in the SEC in his sophomore campaign.
In 2008-09, the Tigers’ diving coach helped one of his athletes earn an invitation to the NCAA Championships for the seventh-consecutive season as senior Niko Dalman competed at the national meet for the third time in his career. Dalman also added the school’s one-meter record to his collection and finished his career as the LSU record-holder in both the one- and three-meter springboard events.
The 2007-08 season proved to be Shaffer’s finest season as the Tigers’ diving coach. Shaffer coached sophomore Rachel Ware to her third All-America accolade in two years with a 12th-place finish in the one-meter springboard at NCAA’s. His athletes also had a superb showing at SEC’s as a conference-high four LSU divers received medals for placing in the top three of their respective events.
Ware and senior Paige Brown enjoyed two of the best competitions of their careers at that meet with both departing Tuscaloosa, Alabama as conference champions. Ware won the one-meter championship and captured the runner-up spot in the three-meter en route to SEC Female Diver of the Year honors. Brown beat out 20 other competitors to take the platform title with a school-record score of 300.30.
Both were also named to the All-SEC first team, the first Lady Tigers to receive all-conference recognition since 2003. Shaffer earned the SEC Women’s Diving Coach of the Year award for his efforts in guiding the duo to conference excellence.
Under Shaffer’s tutelage, the men’s side finished second in the points standings among diving teams at the conference meet, and a pair of Tiger divers reached the awards podium with record-shattering performances. Dalman took home a medal in the three-meter springboard, breaking a then-LSU record in the event with a score of 391.55 to place third. Freshman Michael Neubacher followed two days later with a runner-up finish in the platform competition, crushing the school record with a robust six-dive total of 431.55.
Neubacher, the SEC’s highest-scoring freshman, joined Ware, Dalman and Nathan Schreiber as the fourth-straight athlete in the Shaffer era to earn the distinction as the conference’s top freshman diver.
Outside the pool, Brown truly exemplified the meaning of a student-athlete, joining a long list of former LSU divers who have excelled at the highest levels academically. The Zionsville, Indiana native, who graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in biological engineering, became the third LSU diver in two seasons to be named a finalist for the esteemed SEC H. Boyd McWorter Post-graduate Scholarship. Former standouts Hali Saucier and Andrew Keane were nominated in 2007.
She was also the first athlete in school history to earn a spot in the exclusive Tiger Twelve, which recognizes 12 graduating seniors who have shown great academic success and contributed significantly to the Baton Rouge community, and received the Wally Pontiff Jr. Academic Excellence Award, which goes to the school’s top scholar-athletes. In addition, Brown registered the team’s highest grade point average and was selected to give the commencement speech at the engineering school’s graduation in 2008.
Shaffer’s list of Tiger All-Americans began in 2002-03 upon his arrival. His guidance enabled three divers to earn five NCAA All-American performances, including junior Jessica Wantz and seniors Barb Gorst and Kyle VanArsdall.
The following season Shaffer guided Wantz to a third-place finish overall in the three-meter at NCAA’s, which gave her first-team All-America honors. A third career All-America finish followed in the one-meter.
In 2004-05, Dalman entered his freshman season with little experience. Seven months later, he embarked on a 12th-place finish as an All-American in the one-meter. He also became the first diver in school history to be named SEC Freshman Diver of the Year. Dalman added to his accolades with a top-12 finish in the platform at the 2006 NCAA Championships.
Shaffer was no stranger to leading a successful collegiate diving program before taking the job in Baton Rouge. He was the head coach at UCLA in 1988-89 and then at the University of Minnesota from 1989-96.
Shaffer experienced a great deal of success at Minnesota as he was honored as Big Ten Diving Coach of the Year three times – twice on the women’s side and once for the men’s team. Shaffer coached 11 Big Ten champions, 29 All-Americans and two NCAA champions while at Minnesota. He was named NCAA Diving Coach of the Year in 1993. Shaffer also coached three Pac-10 champions and four All-Americans during his tenure at UCLA.
He has coached the United States in numerous international competitions since 1989, including the U.S. National Diving teams in China, Sweden, Spain and the United States. Shaffer served as the assistant competition manager during the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta and was recruited to be the head diving coach at the Sheffield, England, High Performance Center. There, he coached five Olympians on the Lottery Funded World Class Performance Program but declined a four-year contract extension for the opportunity to coach at LSU.
Shaffer graduated from UCLA in 1986 with a B.A. degree in history. He was an 11-time U.S. National champion, the 1986 NCAA Diver of the Year and the NCAA one-meter and three-meter champion in 1986 for the Bruins. One of the few divers to defeat the legendary Greg Louganis, Shaffer ousted the four-time Olympian five times in 1987, three of which were in U.S. National competition.
Shaffer was a silver medalist in the three-meter at the 1987 Pan American Games and won a gold medal at the 1987 USA-USSR dual meet in the three-meter competition. An Olympic Trials finalist in 1984 and 1988, he retired from competition in 1988 and moved into the nation’s coaching ranks.
Shaffer is a native of Canton, Ohio, and is married to Dr. Tracy Stephenson Shaffer, an LSU professor and chair of the communication studies department. The couple has a daughter, Sara Melissa.
THE DOUG SHAFFER FILE
Born: July 8, 1963 in Baltimore, Md.
Wife: Tracy Stephenson Shaffer
Child: Sara Melissa
High School: Mission Viejo High School, Mission Viejo, Calif.
College: UCLA; B.A. in History, 1986
Shaffer’s Career At A Glance
2021-22 SEC Women’s Diving Coach of the Year
2016-17 SEC Men’s Diving Coach of the Year
2007-08 SEC Women’s Diving Coach of the Year
1 SEC Diver of the Year
11 SEC Champions
31 All-SEC selections
3 SEC Records set
38 NCAA All-Americans
11 SEC Freshman Divers of the Year
11 NCAA All-America honors collected by freshmen
46 SEC Academic Honor Roll selections
4 SEC H. Boyd McWhorter Scholar-Athlete Post-graduate Scholarship finalists
4 LSU Scholar-Athlete of the Year recipients
2 Eye of The Tiger Award Recipients
2 NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship recipients
1 Academic All-American
1 Tiger Twelve Honoree