UF diving coach Donnie Craine dies in boating accident
Published: Thursday, April 24, 2014 at 5:18 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, April 24, 2014 at 7:22 p.m.
Donnie Craine was known around Florida's athletic offices as a caring person who went out of his way to help the divers he coached.
The 61-year-old Craine, Florida's diving coach since 1989, was killed Thursday morning in a boating accident off Bokeelia, which is located on Pine Island in Lee County.
Craine was ejected from his vessel after a head-on collision with an oncoming boat, according to a witness. Both boats turned into each other after one of the vessels came around a curve in Jug Creek off the Pine Island coast. Craine was in southwest Florida for an annual fishing trip.
"He was caring for not just the athletes he worked with, but for everyone he came in touch with," Florida swim coach Gregg Troy said. "He was a tremendous family man. This is a great loss to everyone."
Craine is survived by his wife of 36 years, Mindy, and three adult children — Keith, 31, Christopher, 30, and Stephanie, 26.
"Our thoughts are with Mindy, their family and all who had a chance to know and be coached by him," Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley said. "This is such sad news about Donnie Craine. Donnie loved being a Gator and spent his career here coaching our men's and women's diving athletes. He will be missed."
Born in Fort Lauderdale, Craine spent 30 of his 37-year career coaching at Florida. After earning his bachelor's degree in physical education at Michigan in 1976, Craine was the diving coach at Florida from 1976-81. He returned to UF in 1989 after diving coach stints at Arkansas (1984-85) and LSU (1987-89).
A four-time SEC Diving Coach of the Year at Florida, Craine coached five NCAA champions, including Florida's first — Chris Snode in 1978 (3-meter springboard).
Outside UF, Craine coached the U.S. diving team in the 1991 Pan American Games in Havana and the 1993 World University Games in Buffalo, N.Y.
"He obviously knew his craft, producing as many champions as he did," said Georgia diving coach Dan Laak, a close friend of Craine's. "But probably the best thing about him is he truly loved his divers. He wanted to make them better divers and better people as well."
Contact Kevin Brockway at 352-374-5054 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out Brockway's blog at Gatorsports.com.