Tim Nobriga, the longest-tenured athletics coach at Santa Rosa Junior College, died Monday, just months from his retirement. He was 60.
A former standout diver on Chico State's national championship team, Nobriga had been a diving coach and swim instructor at SRJC for more than 35 years.
He mentored two state champion divers and helped guide the women's swim and dive team to multiple state championships. In 2009, after the last title, a vanquished swimmer even complained that SRJC divers gave the school an unfair advantage at the combined event, school athletic director James Forkum said.
Flashes of envy aside, Nobriga was loved across the Big Eight conference. At NorCal Relays earlier this month, dozens of coaches and hundreds of swimmers and divers gathered by SRJC's pool deck to hear the retiring coach honored, said Jill McCormick, head coach of SRJC's women's swimming and diving team.
In typical fashion, Nobriga, a man of few words, kept his emotions in check, McCormick said.
"Tim sat there and smiled and didn't take his sunglasses off," she said "I think it was hard for him to receive it because he was a humble guy, but I could also tell he felt good about it."
News of his death struck divers at the school hard, she said. Most had worked with him long before enrolling at SRJC.
"He is Sonoma County diving and has been for years," said McCormick, who first met Nobriga as a pre-teen.
She was then a former gymnast intent on trying diving, but with no skill for it. He encouraged her to get in the pool to compete, she said. McCormick later swam at SRJC while Nobriga coached and then worked with him for the past 11 years.
Despite the grief, the team elected to continue with practice Tuesday, diving on a rainy, stormy day that seemed to mirror the moment, McCormick said