On Tuesday evening, ESPN featured Rochester Institute of Technology diving coach Cliff Devries on its award-winning E:60 documentary series.
The episode, called “Cliff Diving,” was about Devries’ annual birthday dive off the 3-meter springboard at RIT’s Judson Pool. Devries, who turns 46 on Wednesday, is paralyzed on the right side of his body after having a 6-inch long brain tumor removed from the base of his brain stem 24 years ago.
About 10 years ago, Devries began a birthday dive tradition to take a plunge every year to mark his birthday. A video about his 2017 dive has more than 235 million views on Facebook.
“A diver symbolized the culmination of a lot of work, involves strength, beauty,” he said in the promo. “You’re not going to find a lot of beauty in what I do. It’s a lot of hard work. It’s a lot of emotion that’s all balled up into a little half-second fall into the water.”
Devries, who was a two-time All-American diver in high school, has been coaching at RIT since 1999. He took a 3-year hiatus in the early 2000s to work as an accountant, but returned to coaching in 2005. He is also the founder of Upstate New York Diving, which is now the largest diving program in the state. He is a 6-time Upper New York State Athletic Conference Diving Coach of the Year and was the first diving coach awarded the Richard E. Steadman Award by the CSCAA.