MARQUETTE, Mich. – After spending over 25 years connected with the Northern Michigan University women’s swimming and diving team, Bob Laughna will not be pacing the pool deck anymore as he has resigned as the head coach. He has led the Wildcats for the past three seasons. Laughna was also the interim head coach during the 2002-03 season. The majority of his involvement with the team has been on a volunteer basis.
“I feel my time with the NMU swimming and diving team can be looked at from two different time periods; the years I volunteered as an assistant swim coach, which started with Anne Goodman James in 1985 to my most recent position as head coach,” said Laughna. “I have fond memories of my time with NMU swimming and diving.”
Laughna has also coached the YMCA age group team and the Marquette Gators. He has been a head coach of the men’s and women’s United States Deaf Association National Swim Team since 1990-. His international coaching experiences have included the World Invitational Meet (1991 and 1992) and the World Games for the Deaf (1993, 1997 and 2001).
Laughna was the head coach of the United States Deaf Association National Swim Team for the Pan-America Games in 2003. Last fall (2009), Laughna was the head coach for the United States team at the Deaflympic Games, which were held in Taiwan.
NMU athletic director Ken Godfrey has high praise for Laughna as a quality individual. “Bob has been a tremendous asset to the NMU swimming and diving team over the years. He is a class individual,” said Godfrey. “We hope he stays active with the team for many years in the future.”
His daughter, Jenny, swam for NMU (1996-99) earning NCAA Division II All-America honors. His other daughter, Kaye-Lani, swam for Wisconsin-Green Bay where she was a conference and team record-holder in the 50 and 100-yard freestyle events.
Laughna has enjoyed working with the student-athletes. “To me, coaching meant working with student-athletes, supporting their growth and watching them achieve their goals, both in and out of the pool,” said Laughna. “I believe coaching has helped me become a better communicator and overall a better person.”
According to Laughna he will miss the interacting with the student-athletes on a daily basis; the conversations, the advising and the mentoring.
Laughna is a 1969 NMU graduate and holds two master’s degrees one in deaf education (1974) from Eastern Michigan University and administration/supervision (1985) from Cal-State Northridge.
He does not see this as the closing of a book, but the beginning of a new chapter. “While this is one chapter in my life that I am closing, another opens, which is spending more time with my wife, my daughters and my new granddaughter,” said Laughna. “I won’t be far from the pool, but I won’t be there at 5 a.m. That’s one thing I won’t miss, getting up at four in the morning.”
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