Paragon Awards Presented By
Cokey Smith Huffman (USA)
Chair of USA Diving Judges Subcommittee
2016 Paragon Award / Competitive Diving
It seems as though diving has always been in Cokey Smith Huffman’s blood. Although she participated in just about every sport in her youth, we are certainly glad she ended up in diving. Both of Cokey’s parents were employed at the University of Michigan and in the 1970’s, there were only several places with great diving coaches. So, in 1976, when Cokey fell in love with diving, after watching the beautifully graceful Jennifer Chandler win the Olympic Games, she hit the jackpot by living in Ann Arbor and having Coach Dick Kimball in her backyard.
She began attending Kimball’s summer camps in 1978 and continued every summer until his last camp in 1988. ISHOF Honor Coach, Dick Kimball invited Cokey to train at Michigan after the summer Junior Nationals in 1979 when she was just 14; Kimball would remain Cokey’s coach until the end of her career. Under Kimball, Smith won 26 State of Michigan age group titles; a silver medal on the 10-meter platform, at the 1981 U.S. Age Group Nationals; a silver medal on the 10-meter platform at the 1986 U.S. Senior Nationals; and was the 1990 and 1991 U.S. National Champion on the 10-meter platform.
Cokey attended the University of Michigan, but only competed for the Wolverines for two years. In 1987 and 1988, she was a Big Ten and NCAA finalist, helping Michigan win the Big Ten Championship both years. Injuries prevented Smith from doing her best and qualifying for the 1988 Olympic team. The four years between 1988 and 1992 saw the best years of her career. She was an 11-time National team member, three-time gold medalist at the United States Olympic Festival, two-time U.S. Senior National Champion and finalist at the 1991 World Championships on the 10-meter tower in Perth, Australia.
Cokey Smith has enjoyed many other accolades during her career. She was voted the 1986 Phillips 66 Performance Awards recipient, by her peers; won the 1990 HTH High Performance Award for the highest total score on dives with degree of difficulty limit; and won the 1990 and 1991 U.S. Senior National Highpoint Award for scoring the highest number of points based on finishes in all three disciplines: one, three and ten-meter.
During her diving career, Cokey always found time to give back to her sport. She involved herself in the administration of U.S.A. Diving, as well as with U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC). She was the chair of the Athlete Representative’s committee from 1988-1992, and was the Athletes Advisory Representative to the USOC from 1988 through 1996. She continued to serve on the Olympic Foundation from 1996 -2000. As the AAC Representative to the USOC she served on the Budget Committee, as well as Games Preparation. She has also served as Treasurer of US Diving from 1996-2000. Currently, she is Chair of the U.S.A. Diving Judge’s Subcommittee, where she recently returned from judging at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, is the Secretary of UANA (Union Americana de Natacion), and is a member of the United States Diving Foundation.
Recipients of the