John Proctor enters his ninth season as the head diving coach at Florida State having the highest honor any coach could merit on his resume – coaching an athlete in the Olympic Games.
Proctor, arrived in Tallahassee for the 2014-15 season from Midland, Texas, inheriting a talented crop of divers that included Katrina Young. He helped Young to an All-American honor on 1-meter on top of an ACC title. Young captured silver on platform before qualifying for the NCAA Championships.
Following her collegiate career, Young remained under Proctor’s instruction as a member of the national team, working strictly on 10-meter events.
Young competed in her second Olympics for Team USA in the women’s 10-meter platform, making the semifinals. She finished 13th at the Games in 2016.
In the summer of 2019, Young brought home two bronze medals from the FINA World Championships, finishing third in the 10-meter synchro and the mixed team event.
In addition to Young, Proctor has coached some of the greatest divers in Florida State history.
Molly Carlson closed out her career as one of the most decorated divers to ever represent FSU. She currently is a member of Team Canada’s High Diving Team, where she finished second in the Red Bull Cliff Diving standings in 2022.
The two-time ACC Diver of the Year (2017, 2020) became the second Seminole in history to win the ACC Diving Meet MVP for the third time after she won gold on both platform (297.25) and 3-meter (340.00) after taking silver on 1-meter (300.85) at the 2020 ACC meet. Carlson also became the first diver in FSU history to podium in all three diving events in a single ACCs.
The Thunder Bay, Ontario, native, finished her career winning six ACC medals, including three gold.
Carlson was also voted at the 2020 ACC Swimming and Diving Scholar Athlete of the Year – the only Seminole in history to win the award. She was also a four-time All-ACC Academic Team member and she earned CoSIDA Academic All-America for at-large sports as a senior.
Carlson was a four-time NCAA qualifier and earned All-America honorable mention accolades as a freshman on platform and 3-meter as a sophomore.
Following her historic career, Carlson transition to train high diving and she is now representing Team Canada on the Red Bull Cliff Diving circuit.
Her classmate, Ayla Bonniwell was with Carlson every step of the way. At the 2020 ACC Championships, Carlson and Bonniwell were first and second on 3-meter. The pair were the eighth 1-2 diving finish at ACCs in school history and first since 2004. Bonniwell was also a four-time NCAA qualifier, earning All-America honorable mention on 1-meter in 2017 after winning the ACC title.
As freshmen, Carlson and Bonniwell led the women’s squad to 193 total points at the 2017 ACC Championships, scoring the highest total of any team at the meet.
Bonniwell was also a three-time All-ACC academic team member and she was also a two-time CoSIDA Academic All-American for at-large sports.
In 2019-20, Proctor’s divers were in the midst of a postseason for the ages, as Carlson, Bonniwell, Joshua Davidson and Cam Thatcher qualified for NCAAs after winning five medals at ACCs, including three gold. However, the rest of the season was canceled due to COVID-19.
He was voted as the ACC Female Diving Coach of the Year for the second time in his career. Proctor is the only FSU coach in history to win the honor.
Davidson captured his first ACC title, winning 1-meter with a total of 382.95, becoming the first Nole to win a diving event at ACCs since Terry Horner won 3-meter in 2010. His five career ACC medals are the most since Horner captured seven in his career. Davidson was also selected to the USA Diving High Performance Squad – Tier 3 after he won bronze on 1-meter at the USA Diving Winter National Championships.
With a new crop of divers for 2020-21, Proctor guided Davidson to his fourth NCAA Championships and rookie Jesco Helling advanced to the Zone B Diving Championships, while battling the challenges of the pandemic.
In 2018, Proctor’s divers collected five medals at the ACC Championships including one gold from senior Blaire Mulka, who won women’s 1-meter.
Dylan Grisell also left his mark in FSU history by becoming the first diver to capture back-to-back All-America honors on platform and just the seventh to accomplish the feat on any board dating back to 1958 when he placed ninth on platform at 389.00. At the 2016 NCAA Championships, Grisell placed seventh, becoming the first All-American in the event in school history.
Grisell was also a four-time All-ACC Academic Team and two-time CoSIDA Academic Team member for at-large sports.
Proctor also coached rookie Cassidy Gebhart to an NCAA bid after she placed fifth on platform at the ACC Championships in 2016.
In his first season in a different element, Proctor felt right at home as a collegiate coach.
He led three divers to the NCAA Championships, in addition to Young, he also helped freshman Tyler Roberge capture an honorable mention on 1-meter.
At ACCs in 2015, Proctor helped the men’s team score 113 points in three events, led by Roberge and Grisell who dove in two championship final heats each.
Proctor joined the Seminole staff after serving as the Program Director and Head Diving Coach of City of Midland (COM) Aquatics in Midland, Texas for 15 years (1999-2014). He built a nationally-known program where he has produced over 50 junior national individual champions including four USA Junior All-Starts and has also coached a finalist in every USA Diving National Meet since 2009.
In 2011, COM Aquatics was named a USA Diving Center of Excellence.
Since 2008, Proctor has occupied the volunteering position of Coaching Representative on the Board of Directors at USA Diving after previously collaborating on the Committee for Competitive Excellence in 2004.
In 2012, he was invited to join the USA Diving staff at the FINA Grand Prix in Rostock, Germany.
While at the helm of COM Aquatics, Proctor oversaw the development of 225 athletes ranging from beginners to elite level divers in addition to heading the growth of five assistant coaches. Proctor has also been the heart of fundraising for the club, generating over three-million dollars in athletic scholarship money since 1999 while directing the Dive Parent Booster Club.
During his 15 years in Midland, Proctor has volunteered for other duties that included both Junior (2000-2005) and Senior (2006-2008) Diving Representative roles for the Northwest Texas Diving Association.
Prior to 1999, Proctor was the head coach of the Tucson Diving Team while serving as the diving team manager for the University of Arizona (1997-1999). He previously was the Head Diving Coach at Ballard High School in Louisville, Ky. (1995-1996) after starting his coaching career as an age group instructor at Auburn Diving Club (1992-1993).