Diving skills give Highland Park’s Jon Roby unique perspective

SHARE Diving skills give Highland Park’s Jon Roby unique perspective

HIGHLAND PARK — Several days a week, Highland Park diver Erin Cullather wakes up at 5:27 a.m. Out the door at 5:35 a.m., she picks up sophomore teammate Emma Fleisher before heading to school.

At 6 a.m., Cullather and Fleisher are joined by five Giants teammates for an hour-long workout run by first-year diving coach Jon Roby. Some mornings, Roby will demonstrate a dive rather than just explain techniques.

“He brings a different aspect [to coaching]. When he tells you to do [a dive] you know exactly what to do,” Cullather said. “He gets it and that makes the environment a lot easier.”

Roby is a familiar name. He was coached by his mother, Jessica Roby, at Glenbrook North in 2008 and 2009, and he was the runner up at state in 2009. He spent one season at Minnesota and became familiar with Cullather and several of her teammates while coaching at Glenbrook Aquatics, a club team run by Glenbrook High School District 225.

Just 22 years old, Jon Roby still competes in senior events across the country. He said the closeness in age and the fact he is a competitive diver allows him to relate to high school divers.

“They don’t see me as a coach, they see me as a peer. If they have a problem, I’ve most likely had the same problems with the same dives,” Jon Roby said. “It’s like we are all in this together. It helps the relationship.”

Jon Roby is coaching a diving team that is larger than usual and is experiencing more success in 2014.

Senior Kendall Robbins and junior Avery Spitz typically compete with Cullather at varsity meets. Fleisher, freshmen Aliana Velick and Sophia Cavanaugh and senior Victoria McGlinn make up a deep JV roster.

“Our diving points are very important,” Giants swim coach AJ Block said. “I feel like that’s a big part of our team.”

At a dual meet Friday at Evanston, Cullather performed at a level unsurpassed in school history.

Her score of 221.10 broke program record set by her sister, Maggie, in 2011. Maggie Cullather is now a junior at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York.

“The fact it was my sister’s record made it even cooler,” said Erin Cullather, adding that Maggie Cullather texted congratulations later Friday evening. “I’m excited I broke it but I’m not relaxing and taking it easy. I have three goals and that’s one I can check off.”

Erin Cullather said the other two goals she hopes to check off are CSL champion and state qualifier. Jon Roby said those are in her sights, noting her back-one-and-a-half and front-double dives are two of her best this season.

“Her lift is pretty solid. You only have to tweak little things,” Jon Roby said. “Erin will do well at conference. I think Avery will do well.”

Before those meets, there will be plenty of early morning workouts. Jon Roby will teach and possibly demonstrate a dive himself. His students will listen, watch and learn.

“[Roby] builds that mutual trust so you know you are ready to do a dive. When he tells you to do it, you know exactly what to do,” Erin Cullather said.

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