Texas coach Matthew Scoggin dives into Olympic lessons

Alexandra Dubinsky

As head coach of the UT diving team, Matt Scoggin, former UT and Olympian diver, inspired students with several life lessons he learned during his athletic career Wednesday evening.  

Every week, the Longhorn Center for Academic Excellence invites UT students, faculty and the public to attend the ACE Distinguished Series, an academic success program that hosts a diverse group of speakers and topics. 

Scoggin began diving at the age of 14. After coming in second-to-last place in his first competition, he said diving became his obsession. Immediately after the competition, he began cutting out pictures of champion divers and posting them around his room as a constant reminder to work hard.

Throughout the lecture, Scoggin focused on the psychological aspect of diving by applying it to everyday life. 

“I couldn’t think of the consequences of the competition and so, like a light switch, I got my mind right at a crucial moment,” Scoggin said. “I had that chip on my shoulder that allowed me to relax and perform well.”

Scoggin advised the audience to find that right mind-frame by reflecting on past successes and failures.

“Everyone’s different,” Scoggin said. “It’s one of life’s journeys to find out what makes you tick, so when it’s your moment, you have peace of mind which will allow you to perform like you’ve been training.”

Scoggin competed for Texas from 1981-1985 and went on to compete in the Barcelona Olympics. Prior to being selected coach for the 2012 USA Olympic Team, he won the USA Diving’s Coach of Excellence Award at the USA Diving National Championships in 2010. 

Paul Nguyen, undeclared freshman and gateway scholar, said he was interested in Scoggin’s lessons from the beginning.

“I like how he related his diving experiences to school. It kept me engaged.”

Executive director of the Gateway Scholars Program, Aileen Bumphus, said his life lessons apply directly to college students. 

“I like how he advised the students to find that one thing that makes you tick,” Bumphus said. “College is about getting your mind ready, especially during times of adversity.”

 Scoggin ended his lecture by reminding the audience the importance of perseverance.

“If there’s something you really want, cut some pictures out of magazines and when things are looking bad, don’t give up,” Scoggin said. “Some great things are going to happen.”