Oct. 2, 2013
CHARLOTTESVILLE — The twins — son Roland and daughter Ruby — were born in Ohio on Sept. 10, at about 4 p.m. A few hours later, the proud father got a phone call from Augie Busch, who had been hired in July to oversee the swimming and diving programs at the University of Virginia.
Busch offered him a job as the Cavaliers’ head diving coach. Jason Glorius immediately accepted.
“Pretty good day,” Glorius recalled with a smile last week at UVa’s Aquatic and Fitness Center.
Two days after the twins were born, Glorius started work at Virginia, where he’s the newest member of Busch’s staff. He joined a program in which diving will be a major emphasis.
“I think I know how to create a culture where swimmers and divers feel like they’re one and the same,” Busch said, “where divers feel very appreciated, where they feel they’re part of everything, in and out of the water.”
Busch previously coached at Houston, Arizona and Arkansas, and the diving coaches at those schools spoke highly of Glorius. What matter most to Busch, though, were the recommendations of divers with whom Glorius worked in his four seasons at Denison University.
“From his student-athletes, I took away from them that he really taught them a lot of dives in a short period of time,” Busch said.
“He just sounded like a guy who worked his tail off, who was just looking for an opportunity at the Division I level. From what I gathered, he really matched our competitiveness, in terms of the rest of our coaching staff.”
Denison, located in Granville, Ohio, about 35 miles east of Columbus, is a Division III power in swimming and diving. In 2011, Denison edged 31-time defending champion Kenyon for the NCAA men’s title.
The Big Red repeated as NCAA champion in 2012, this time finishing 81 points ahead of second-place Kenyon, and was runner-up last season. In 2011, the Denison men’s divers totaled 50 points at the NCAA meet. Their total increased to 66 points a year later.
“I don’t think you have to look too far to see how important diving is,” Glorius said.
Before 2011, Denison had not “had a male diver score significant points [at the NCAA meet] in a long, long time, and I had two guys there that both were All-Americans on both boards,” Glorius said.
“Three-meter diving was the second-to-last event with the men, so the whole place was electric. Everyone knew we had a shot. It was really cool, and going into 3-meter we were down by 20 points. Coming out of 3-meter diving we were up by eight, and then our 400-free relay had to hold on for third place, which was exactly what they did. So we won by a point. It was nuts, man.”
Glorius’ predecessor at Virginia was Rich MacDonald, who’s now head diving coach at the U.S. Naval Academy. A school-record nine divers from UVa qualified for the NCAA Zone Championships last season. All nine are back at Virginia, including junior JB Kolod for the men and sophomores Becca Corbett and Katie Warburg for the women.
“I think we are poised to make a very large splash at the NCAA championship meet,” Glorius said. “Obviously JB made it last year, but I don’t see any reason why at least one more, if not two more, of the guys can’t make it, and then the women’s side is strong. I think we got two very, very good chances at it on that side, too.”
Kolod’s 12th-place performance on the 3-meter springboard was the best finish ever by a UVa diver at the NCAA championships. He placed 21st on the platform and 26th on the 1-meter springboard.
“I think Coach MacDonald left a very good foundation as far as talent,” Glorius said. “I think we can get significantly better, though. The way I am training them is significantly different than how they’ve been trained in the past here. There’s more focus on drill work and fundamentals and spatial awareness, leaving the board properly, leaving the platform properly, which I think will help with the harder dives, to gain more consistency.
“We’ve got the foundation of talent, which is the most important part, because then you have something to work with. But I think we also have a commitment as a staff to take the program to the next level, to win a national championship. So all those things are in place.”
At Denison, where his colleagues included men’s lacrosse coach Mike Caravana, who starred in that sport at UVa, Glorius was named North Coast Athletic Conference diving coach of the year six times — three on the men’s side and three on the women’s side.
“At Denison I was able to attract D-I talent,” Glorius said. “That’s why we did so well. I had three divers that I would say could very easily dive here and do well here and help us qualify to nationals. But for the most part the difference I’ve seen is these divers [at UVa] make corrections better. I used to beat my head against the wall with some of my Denison divers, just telling them the same thing over and over again. But what I’ve seen here at UVa is the divers are a lot more focused, tuned in to the details that are necessary to gain consistency.”
Glorius and his wife, Jamie, have four children: Bella, 5, Nika, 3, and the twins. Jamie is from Kentucky. Glorius grew up in Cincinnati, where he attended Archbishop Moeller High School, and still roots hard for the Reds and the Bengals.
Busch has deep roots in Cincinnati, too, and “apparently we had crossed paths on deck back when we were both young,” Glorius said. “His dad was still coaching [at the University of Cincinnati] when I had just started training at their club as a club diver.
“We apparently saw each other at some point. We’re just too darn old now and were too young then to remember.”
Glorius’ competitive résumé includes four years as a college diver, the first one at the University of Illinois and the next three at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.
After graduating from Miami in 1997, Glorius did not immediately embark on a career in coaching. “I tried my hand at a number of things — bartending, waiting tables, landscaping,” he said. “I was the safety director at a steel foundry … manager at some billing company … all in the Cincinnati area.”
He ended up selling real estate. “I actually made decent money at it,” Glorius recalled, “but I was just miserable. I was sitting at my desk one day and I was like, `I gotta do something that makes me happy.’ I remember exactly where I was sitting, exactly what time of day it was, and I said, `What makes you happy?’ And I immediately said, `Coaching.’ Because I had not only coached diving, I’d coached baseball, basketball, soccer, swimming.”
He began coaching diving at Cincinnati-area high schools and then with the Tri State Club. He started the Thunderbird Diving Club, “and from there I got to Denison, and now I’m here,” Glorius said.
His first visit to UVa was for his interview with Busch. “I just knew it had an excellent academic reputation,” Glorius said.
That reputation is one reason he’s so confident the Wahoos can reach unprecedented heights in swimming and diving.
“Honestly, and this might sound like I’m blowing smoke or something, but the biggest piece is Virginia the school,” Glorius said. “Kids want to come here and get a great education, and aquatic sports tend to have good students.”
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: In 2012-13, UVa swept the ACC titles in men’s and women’s swimming & diving for the sixth straight year. Members of the 2012-13 teams will be honored Saturday afternoon at Scott Stadium between the first and second quarters of the Virginia-Ball State football game.
Mark Bernardino, who retired in July 1 after 35 seasons as the Cavaliers’ head coach, had a previous commitment and will not be able to attend Saturday.