After 29 years at the University of Connecticut and more than 45 years coaching, UConn swimming and diving head coach Bob Goldberg is retiring after the 2016-17 season.
Goldberg graduated from Springfield College with a degree in physical education. While there, he was swimming under head coach Charles Silvia and assistant coach Charlie Smith.
“Coach Silvia was a legend in his own time so I think he affected all of us. He was a scientifically oriented coach when that wasn’t very popular. It was an evolutionary time when science was becoming more accepted and he was way ahead of his time. As a swimmer and diver there he imparted that to all of us that went into coaching and we carried that with us,” Goldberg said. “Coach Smith followed in the same footsteps but was a little more grounded, so it was a great combination and a great learning experience.”
After spending a year teaching elementary school, Goldberg decided he had to try something else. He went on to Penn State where he earned his master’s degree in biomechanics. During this time, he would become an assistant professor and coach for the university.
“Midway through that first year they liked what I was doing and offered me a job. I was very lucky. The right place at the right time,” Goldberg said.
Goldberg has had many students go on to success after leaving the program. Mary Ellen Clark, whom Goldberg coached at Penn State, is one of the most famous.
“She won two bronze medals in the Olympic Games in 1992 and 1996, and it was thrilling,” Goldberg said. “But by the same token we have doctors, dentists, engineers, doing all kinds of great things. It’s all about how you interpret success.”
Goldberg cites the favorite moment of his career as winning ECACs in the early ‘90s, a tournament that had been dominated by Boston University for the better part of a decade.
“We were behind going into the last day and just had a phenomenal day and ended up winning the conference championship that year,” Goldberg said.
A few weeks ago, the university held a retirement reception for Goldberg in which he was presented with a varsity letter as well as a captain’s chair. Former and current students as well as fellow members of the UConn athletics faculty attended the reception.
“It was pretty overwhelming,” Goldberg said. “You work day to day and you don’t see the bigger picture, but to walk in and see that many people there was pretty special.”
After spending the majority of his career coaching at UConn, Goldberg also took time to reflect on the future of the program.
“I’m pretty optimistic. UConn is a great place. Within the limits of our program we have a lot of success in recruiting and I think we could be very good.” Goldberg said. “I’m hoping that they hire someone who’s young, enthusiastic, energetic and has the right perspective on what’s important that will bring us farther than I’ve been able to.”
With his coaching career behind him, Goldberg is trying not to think too much about retirement. He enjoys sailing, loves playing golf and has grandchildren in the area. But for now, he’s staying focused on the rest of the season.
“I told the team the very first meet that this year’s not about me, it’s about them and swimming well. And they’ve been doing that so I’m very happy,” Goldberg said.
Rachel Schaefer is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org