Posts Tagged ‘Olympics’

Jennifer Hooker now Jennifer Brinegar loved it.  Jennifer and I share a little bit more than just birthdays… we share the love of Indiana as well as the love of Bloomington.

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Photo Courtesy of: homepages.indiana.eduUniversity as well as the love of swimming, even though she would beat me in a race every time.

Jennifer was born here in Bloomington, IN and started swimming when she was two years old.  Once she was a little older, she started attending swimming camps and lessons on IU’s campus.  This is where Doc Counsilman first saw the young star.  From then on, Doc started allowing her to come and watch the men’s practices.  She just watched and listened as he helped each and every swimmer whether they walked on to the team or on scholarship.

Once she started high school, Doc encouraged her to go to a different more challenging school than Bloomington South.  Jennifer ended up at Kentucky where she finally qualified for nationals in a couple different events.

After graduation, she moved back to attend IU.  Even though the women’s swimming program wasn’t the best, she helped it along.  She helped usher in their first Big Ten Championship while breaking record after record, some of which still stand today.

Doc Counsilman kept pushing her to try out for the ’76 Olympics while Jennifer wanted to wait til ’80.  In the end, she was glad she tried out because she became part of the US’s gold medal relay team as well as placing top five in two other freestyle events.  Jennifer also was thankful she didn’t wait till ’80 because of the USA’s protest during those games.

Jennifer left Bloomington for many years to obtain a Law Degree, but eventually came back and worked in a few offices on campus, including the one that turned in Sampson for his unethical recruiting practices.

In 1999, Jennifer was finally inducted into the Indiana University Athletic Hall of Fame.  The Herald Time’s even wrote an article about her and all of her accomplishments.

Doc Counsilman as well as Bloomingotn was Jennifer’s key into swimming stardom.  She not only realizes this, but she also embraces it.

I was just really fortunate to be born where I was born and live where I lived and to work with someone like Doc Counsilman. If I had been born anywhere else, I might not have had those opportunities.

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According to Indiana University Hall of Fame,  Cynthia Potter is “considered by many to be the best diver of all time.

At Indiana, she was a Big Ten Champion in the One-Meter and Three Meter diving, and 400 Freestyle Relay during the 1972 season. She also was received Varsity Letters in 1970, 71, and 72.  Cynthia was finally inducted into the Indiana University Hall of Fame in 1989.

Potter wasn’t only a legend in Indiana; she also made her name known internationally.  She participated in four different Olympics:

  • 1968 – Platform Alternate
  • 1972 – Three-Meter 7th, Platform 21st
  • 1976 – Three-Meter Bronze
  • 1980 – Boycott

During this span of 12 years, Potter racked up 28 National Championships breaking the record at the time.  Cynthia Potter ended her diving career by being inducted into the International Hall of Fame in 1987.

cynthia nbc

Cynthia Potter continued following Diving throughout her professional career.  She spent a few years as College Diving Coaches as well as a commentator for television.  Most recently, she covered the 2008 & 2012 Diving Competition at the Summer Olympics.

So is she the best diver of all time like the IU Hall of Fame suggested?  No she is not.  I don’t dispute she was a good diver in her time; in her time is the key word here.  I believe there are a lot better divers now because of the updated coaching methods and equipment.

Michelle Venturella isn’t just “one of the most accomplished team sport athletes in IU history,” she is also an Olympian as well as a decorated Head Softball coach for the University of Illinois – venturella-091712Chicago  Flames.

When Michelle was attending Indiana University, she made a name for herself in the record books.  She currently holds the IU season records for…

  • runs
  • doubles
  • home runs
  • runs batted in

While also owning the career record for runs batted in and she didn’t stop there.  During her time at Indiana, Michelle (1991-95) was named All-Big Ten twice and Academic Big Ten three times.  She was so named an All-American twice.  In her final year, Michelle Venturella received the IU Female Athlete of the Year.  Michelle was also just recently inducted into the IU Hall of Fame – Class of 2012.  Here is here speech from that night.

After graduation, Michelle joined the National Team for six years while making a run at the 1996 and 2000 Olympics.  The USA team ended up bringing home a gold medal in 2000; however, this wasn’t Michelle first gold medal.  She also helped brought home a gold medal in the 1998 World Championships.

Before moving on to UIC, Michelle was the assistant head coach at Iowa and Northern Illinois.  In Iowa, she was actually coaching under a fellow IU Hall of Famer, Gayle Blevins.  At UIC, Michelle is currently in her 5th season as the Flames’ Head Coach.  She has helped lead the girls to a Horizon League Championship as well as a NCAA birth in 2011; a feat that hasn’t been accomplished since 2004.

Michelle Venturella has become a great coach at IUC.  She has completely turned the program around as well as shed lots of light on her players, but don’t forget…it all started here at Indiana.

If you would like to see Michelle Venturella and her IUC Flames in action, come out on March 15-17th and watch them participate in the Hoosier Classic hosted in Bloomington, IN.


According to the IU Althetic Website,christina-loukas

Few universities, or even nations can match IU’s overall Olympic record. Indiana University boasts 191 total Olympic berths, representing 22 countries. On 14 occasions Olympic coaches have come from IU.

Christina Loukas (2004-08) is one of these lucky young athletes.

Christina grew up in Riverwoods, Illinois and attended Deerfield High School.  She started diving at age 12 and has been ever since.

At Indiana University, Christina make her mark quickly by breaking many records and taking home multiple first place ribbons on 1 and 3 meter diving boards.  She was even named Big Ten Diver of the Year as well as finishing 6th in the World Championships on the 1 meter board in her first year.  Christina just kept getting better and better.


Tara VanDerveer grew up in a small town that didn’t have sport teams for girls yet; however that didn’t stop her from becoming the nationally known Stanford head coach that she is today.
tara with team

Now, who should be given the credit for teaching her everything she knows?  Just the most respected and admired head coach to ever come through Bloomington, Indiana… Coach Knight.

Even though VanDerveer didn’t start her college career at Indiana, she did end up making a great decision by transferring here in 1972 for her sophomore year of college.  Her impact on the team was almost immediate because Indiana received a bid from the AIAW and ended up going all the way to the Elite 8 before being beaten by the future Champions.  After three years at Indiana, she just couldn’t give up on her love of basketball; she wanted to coach.