By Gary R. Rasberry
After 30 years of coaching gymnastics, Jane Diller received one of the biggest honors other coaches can give to one of their own.
The longtime Coldwater gymnastics coach was honored by the Ohio High School Athletic Association and Ohio High School Gymnastics Coaches Association in receiving the Sportsmanship, Ethics and Integrity (SEI) Award for her years of service to the Cavalier gymnastics program.
The award was presented to Diller on Saturday at the state gymnastics tournament in Hilliard. Diller is the 12th honoree in 11 years of presenting the award.
The coaches' associations from the 22 state-recognized sports each select one of their members for the award each year. The selection is picked based on their reflection of the values of sportsmanship, ethics and integrity to the sport.
"It was a real nice honor," said Diller during a Monday afternoon telephone interview. "It was totally unexpected." The notification of being honored came on a message that Diller wondered was for her."
"The OHSAA called me and I wasn't home, so they left it on the answering machine. I came back and I was wondering who they were calling. I asked my husband (Dan) 'Do they have the wrong number?' I was really surprised and very overwhelmed.
"To be recognized by the OHSAA and the coaches, especially when there are some strong powerhouse coaches that have been around. There are many coaches deserving of the award. I was surprised to be selected and very honored."
Diller started the Cavalier gymastics program in 1975 and guided it through last season when the program was cut as a varsity sport.
The program continues to exist as a club program, finishing 10th in the district tournament this season, with Diller's daughter Lindsay Simons helping coach the program.
In her years with the program, Diller guided a number of gymnasts to the state individual tournament, including sisters Carol Fisher and Amy Shaw and Diller's daughters Lindsay and Melissa. In 1994, the Cavalier team advanced to the state team tournament for the first time in school history.
Diller also got the chance to write about her philosophy of coaching and family was a central theme.
"Coaching gymnastics has always been a family affair," wrote Diller in the media guide to the state tournament. "Each of my teams became family as we spent much time solidifying the team concept."
It was quite appropriate that on Saturday, the extended family of parents -- former gymnasts and her family -- were in attendance to see Diller accept the honor.
"It was a really overwhelming day," said Diller. "It was neat. My personal family came, a lot of my gymnasts came and so did a lot of parents. It was so special. It was a warm day.
"It was like a closing chapter of just a lot of dreams I had for gymastics the last 30 years. It was just a real warm day."