DURHAM, N.C. – After joining the Duke swimming and diving staff in early June, head diving coach Nunzio Esposto looks to begin the 2013-14 campaign on a strong note next month. Esposto recently sat down with GoDuke.com to discuss his return to collegiate coaching and some of his goals for the Duke diving program.
GoDuke.com: What have you seen so far from this group of divers in the short time that you’ve been with the program?
Nunzio Esposto: I got to work with the two freshmen [Kirby Quinn and Cole Plambeck] this summer and I got to work with Nick [McCrory] a little bit this summer and then Kendall [McClenney]. I’m really glad that the freshmen came early because now they’re already acclimated. They’re both very excited to start the season off, and the same with all of them. There’s a sense of excitement.
GoDuke.com: How has your return to collegiate coaching been after being away for a few years?
NE: It’s been really, really good. It brings back memories from when I coached before, and it just reinforces the fact that I’m really glad I made the decision to come back to coaching full-time.
GoDuke.com: What are some of your goals for the diving program here at Duke?
NE: I want to train the ones that are here really well. Goals in particular, I think it would be excellent if Nick McCrory could sweep all three events at NCAAs. I want all our divers to perform well. In terms of finishes, I would very much like them to final at ACCs and qualify for NCAAs.
GoDuke.com: Given the one-on-one nature of coaching diving, what would you say is your coaching style or philosophy?
NE: I’m an easy-going guy but when I’m in the pool coaching, I’m very technically oriented and I have a sense of being able to connect with the divers really well because of my personality. I think that’s one of the biggest things – I can connect with them and they can understand and perform at a higher level.
GoDuke.com: Having coached Nick McCrory earlier in his diving career, what has it been like to work with him again?
NE: It’s kind of funny because the dynamic is a little bit different. Of course now Nick is much different in the sense that he’s more mature and he’s grown into the person that he’s become. I’ve known him since he was seven years old. The dynamic in a sense is different, but we’ve kept in touch and we know each other so well that it’s going to be really good this year to coach him again.
GoDuke.com: What contributions do you think the two freshmen divers will add to the program?
NE: Both of them have a lot of talent. Both of them have been at the Junior National level. I think the training is going to be a little different. Both of them are very talented, very strong and they have a lot of potential. I think incorporating the strength training that we do and a lot of the core work we do which is really important to diving – I think adding those things for them, I see them improving a lot this year. Hopefully they achieve some goals as well.
GoDuke.com: What excites you about coaching in the ACC?
NE: A lot of the coaches that I coached with before in the ACC are the same, so just seeing some of those people over the summer. Diving is pretty close-knit and everybody knows everybody else. A lot of the responses from around the country have been really, really positive.
GoDuke.com: Having been a collegiate diver yourself, how does that help you as a coach?
NE: I think most of all it helps me relate to their daily activities – being able to juggle their academics and their athletics. For me, being able to be understanding about the times that academics might be a little higher on the list in terms of when finals are and things like that. I think it gives me a more well-rounded approach to coaching.
GoDuke.com: How do you plan to continue building on the success Drew Johansen had here with the Duke diving program moving forward?
NE: Recruiting talented athletes is part of it. I think when you get a really established diver in your program, that’s great. But also part of recruiting is finding those divers that maybe aren’t quite as accomplished but you see a lot of potential in them. With it just being my first year, I look forward to recruiting this year and building on the team that’s here and training the athletes that are here to become better divers.