Former swim team members and a University of Miami alumni official gathered at South Miami’s Big Cheese Restaurant recently to honor a man they revere and respect, retired longtime coach Bill Diaz.
Diaz, 87, coached both men and women UM swimming and diving teams for 15 years, from 1970 to 1985. His squads posted four top-10 NCAA championship finishes and finished in the top 20 at the NCAA championships 11 times. In 1974, 1977 and 1982, his men’s teams won national championships and the 1975 womens’ swimming and diving squads won six individual national titles.
On hand at the Big Cheese to pay tribute to Coach Diaz were former swimmers Doug Hartman, Steve Lichtner, John Spire, Kurt Weinants and Ken Groce, along with his son John Diaz, who was also a UM swimmer, and UM director of alumni programs Rick Remmert.
The group presented Coach Diaz with a framed artwork commemorating his years as a UM coach. The artwork in reality was an enlarged copy of the cover of a very special DVD that was signed by more than 65 swimmers, divers, coaches and staff members who returned to the campus last month for a reunion and to pay tribute to Coach Diaz. The DVD contains hundreds of pages of newspaper and magazine articles and photographs from Coach Diaz’s distinguished era at UM. They were collected over the years in a huge scrapbook and recently were scanned electronically, then transferred to a master DVD by XRay Copy Service. Each returning alumni was given a copy as a gift from UM and XRay Copy.
“The framed and signed artwork was a gift to Coach Diaz from the University in recognition of his amazing career,” said the UM’s Remmert. “It was jointly created for Coach Diaz and the returning swimmers, divers, coaches and staff.”
Coach Diaz resides in Palmetto Bay with his wife, Martha, and continues to dine regularly at the original Big Cheese Restaurant in South Miami.