The most decorated diver in Arizona history, Michele Mitchell-Rocha is set to begin her ninth with the Wildcat diving program. She directs the program with the assistance of her husband, Jose Rocha, who was an NCAA champion diver at Auburn and a competitor for Mexico at the 1984 Olympics.
Mitchell-Rocha won silver medals on the 10-meter platform at both the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles and the 1988 games in Seoul, Korea. She was inducted into the UA Athletic Hall of Fame in 1988 and the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1995.
A four-time All-America selection during her collegiate career in 1979-83, Mitchell-Rocha’s accomplishments also include 1986 Sullivan Award Nominee, nine-time U.S. national champion, 1985 World FINA Cup champion, 1987 Pan American Games champion, four-time U.S. Olympic Committee “Athlete of the Year” honoree, and American record holder for platform diving, 479.40 points for an eight-dive list.
During Mitchell-Rocha’s tenure as the Arizona diving coach, her divers have accumulated 22 All-America honors and 10 Pac-10 titles. An Academic All-American herself while competing for the Wildcats, Mitchell-Rocha’s UA divers have earned multiple CoSIDA Academic All-America honors. Lindsay Berryman was a second team Academic All-American in both 1999 and 2001, Claire Febvay earned third team Academic All-America laurels in 2003, and most recently, current Wildcat diver Daniella Bemme earned a 1st team All-American honor for platform diving at the 2004 NCAA Championships, and was an All-Academic Honorable Mention.
Since taking over the Wildcat diving program, Mitchell-Rocha has put UA diving on the map. Prior to her arrival, Arizona had recorded a total of just 10 NCAA top-16 finishes among the men and women combined since 1978. In Mitchell-Rocha’s seven years at Arizona, the Cats have put up 12 top-16 finishes on the men’s side and nine on the women’s. Omar Ojeda was runner-up in the 3-meter at the 2001 NCAA Championships, the best-ever NCAA finish for a UA men’s diver, and he was third on the platform.
In 1997, her first year at the helm of the program, Mitchell-Rocha was named the Pac-10 Men’s Diving Coach of the Year after guiding Jimmy Sjodin, who was also chosen the Pac-10 Men’s Diver of the Year, to conference titles in both the platform and 3-meter. Due to the success of both Ojeda and Ruben Vaca, Mitchell-Rocha was also chosen Pac-10 Men’s Diving Coach of the Year in 2000, 2001 and 2002.
The UA women have excelled under Mitchell-Rocha, as well. In 1999, Lindsay Berryman was named the Pac-10 Women’s Diver of the Year, and a year later, Berryman won the conference title on the platform, becoming the first UA women’s diver to garner a Pac-10 championship.
Mitchell-Rocha has also shared her knowledge of the sport through television. Her television resume includes the 1992 Olympic Trials and Games, the 1994 and 1995 NCAA Women’s Championships, and the 1993 World University Games. During the summer of 1996, she anchored the in-stadium radio broadcasts for diving at the Olympic Games in Atlanta and was the bungee jump analyst for the ESPN X-Games.
An avid promotional and motivational speaker, Mitchell-Rocha’s past clients include McDonald’s, Nabisco, United States Diving, the U.S. Olympic Committee, as well as many civic and charitable organizations. She also holds positions on several committees and foundations, including the United States Diving Foundation, the USOC Athlete Support Committee, and the Women’s Sports Foundation Grant Review Committee. Mitchell-Rocha is currently serving on the NCAA Swimming and Diving Rules Committee.
Mitchell-Rocha earned her undergraduate degree in English, with a minor in athletic coaching and secondary education, from the University of Arizona in 1983. She received her master’s degree in sports administration from Arizona in December of 2000 and is currently on her way to earning her Ph. D in educational psychology . She and Jose have a daughter, Ariana (8), and a son, Dakota (6).