Jim Dietz – CRCA Hall of Fame Class of 2015
Entering his 22nd year at the helm of the University of Massachusetts women’s crew team during 2015-16, Jim Dietz has molded the Minutewomen program into one of the nation’s finest and a powerhouse across all New England region schools.
The only crew coach in UMass history, the Minutewomen have dominated regular-season racing and captured 15 Atlantic 10 Championships under Dietz’s direction. His squads have produced 65 Atlantic 10 gold medals in 12 separate league championship events, including 12 in 21 starts by his Varsity 8+ t boats. For his efforts, Dietz has been honored as Atlantic 10 Conference Coach of the Year on nine occasions, including the 2014 and 2015 campaigns.
Dietz’s tutelage produced the 15th Atlantic 10 Championship in program history during the Spring 2015 campaign. Faced with the daunting task of defending the 2014 Atlantic 10 Championship and Dad Vail Regatta Women’s Title, Dietz guided his squad to yet another standout campaign in 2015 as he earned Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year and four members of the team picked up all-league honors.
Dietz and the Minutewomen responded to treacherous winter weather throughout February and March with first place in the Varsity 8+ and Second Varsity 8+ at the Atlantic 10 Championship for the league title and an automatic invitation back to the NCAA Championships. The A-10 Championship success continued into the Dad Vail Regatta two weeks later as UMass swept the Varsity 8+, Second Varsity 8+ and Varsity 4+ grand finales en route to its second consecutive Dad Vail Regatta Women’s Title.
Massachusetts earned its 14th Atlantic 10 Championship under Dietz’s tutelage when the Minutewomen took the top spot at the 2014 edition of the event. The Varsity 8+ and Varsity 4+ boats earned gold medals for UMass, which outscored Rhode Island, 52-50 to take the top spot and earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships. Dietz again took home his the Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year Award following the event while four Minutewomen collected all-conference honors.
Dietz led the Minutewomen to their 13th conference title in 2009, after finishing second in 2008 to Rhode Island. Massachusetts defeated the defending champions by 24 points in the championships, 141-117. UMass took five gold medals during the event, highlighted by a first place finish in the Second Varsity Eight. In addition to the team championship, three Minutewomen were named Atlantic 10 First Team All-Conference.
Recognized internationally for his coaching ability, Dietz was inducted into the National Rowing Hall of Fame in March of 2010, and was also elected as the Vice Chair to the Board of Directors of USRowing in February of 2010. He guided UMass to a fourth-place team finish at the 1998 NCAA Championship in Gainesville, Ga., and his varsity eights earned silver medals at the 1997 and 1998 NCAA meets. Six of his student-athletes have earned a total of seven Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association All-America citations.
Dietz’s success does not end on the water, as his program has produced a league-leading 39 Atlantic 10 Academic All-Conference performers, 23 Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association National Scholar Athletes who have earned a total of 33 citations and four U.S. Rowing Association Academic All-America laurels. In addition, his teams annually lead UMass’ Atlantic 10 Commissioner’s Honor Roll selections.
Before coming to Amherst to start the UMass program from scratch, Dietz spent nine years as the head coach of the Coast Guard Academy crew program (1985-1994). Though his primary responsibilities were with the men’s heavyweight eight, he was also in charge of the overall program, which included four assistant coaches and more than 90 student-athletes.
Dietz’s crew experience began in 1964, when he competed for the New York Athletic Club in all classes of rowing and sculling events. As a high school student, he won all United States and Canadian Scholastic championships in single and double sculls from 1964-67 and won the first Junior World Championship in single sculls at Ratzeburg, Germany, in 1967.
Throughout his competitive years, Dietz won 45 United States and 37 Canadian national championship titles. He was a member of almost every U.S. National Team from 1967-1983, including U.S. Olympic entries in 1972, 1976 and 1980. In addition, Dietz captured medals at the Pan American Games in 1967, 1975, 1979 and 1983 while he was also a member of seven World Championship teams.
A 1972 graduate of Northeastern University with a bachelor of science degree in marketing, Dietz is an inductee into the Northeastern University Hall of Fame as well as the New York Athletic Club (NYAC) Hall of Fame. A Veteran Award winner of the NYAC and a Power Ten Award winner of Manhattan, Dietz also earned the prestigious Athlete of the Quarter Century honor for his past performances at the Head of the Charles Regatta.
Since 1976, Dietz has been involved with the United States Olympic Committee and in 1988 and 1992 he served as the U.S. Olympic Quad Coach in Seoul, South Korea, and Barcelona, Spain, respectively.
In 1987, Dietz founded the Thames River Sculls, a non-profit sculling center. Over the years, members of this program have won numerous titles at the U.S. Scholastic Championship and U.S.R.A. Elite Nationals. Several members have gone on to race for the United States on World and Olympic teams. The Thames River/Pre-Elite women’s crews have participated in the Nation’s Cup Regatta (under 23 World Championships) winning the 1996 meet in Belgium.
Dietz coached the 2000 U.S. Olympic Team in Sydney, Australia, taking the bronze medal in the women’s lightweight double. In 1999, he led the U.S. National Team, taking medals at the Pan American Games and the World Rowing Championships. In 2003, his women’s lightweight double finished fourth at the World Championship in Milan, Italy.
Dietz, and his wife Pamela, who have two children, James II and Michael, reside in Amherst.