Depth in distance events and on the boards will help the Wildcats this year
Alik Sarkisian was named Northwestern's head men's and women's diving coach prior to the 2006-07 season, and just completed his ninth year at the helm of the diving corps. Sarkisian joined the Wildcats after five years as the Director and Head Coach at the USA Diving Regional Training Center.
In his first season at the helm, Sarkisian coached men's divers Ryan McIntosh and Alex Kiaie to scoring performances in all three diving events at the Big Ten Championships. His divers from both squads qualified for NCAA Zone Diving competition. On the women's side in 2007-08, fifth-year senior Leanne Dumais returned from a medical hardship season to reach the finals on both spring boards for the first time in her career. She became the first NU women's diver ever to finish in the top-eight in both the 1-meter and 3-meter events at the same Big Ten Championships.
After finding success with his inherited student-athletes, Sarkisian quickly learned the recruiting ropes in his first collegiate job, as well. He signed Felicitas Lenz to the women's team for the 2009-10 season; Lenz participated in the 2009 AT&T National Diving Championship in addition to racking up three top-10 finishes at the Speedo Junior National Diving Championship during the summer of 2009.
Lenz would go on to win All-Big Ten honors on the 10-meter platform in 2012, becoming the first Wildcat to do so since 2006. She qualified for NCAA Zones in all four of her seasons, racked up 30 total career event victories and was a multiple-time Big Ten Diver of the Week.
Sarkisian recruited Lenz's younger sister, Cosima, to Northwestern as part of that 2010-11 class, and she immediately gave the Wildcats two scoring threats in every event. In the 2013-14 class, Sarkisian inked a trio of men's diving with impeccable credentials including Starz Diving teammates Andrew Cramer and Reed Dillon, both Junior National qualifiers. Cramer quickly broke Northwestern's diving records in the 3-meter and platform events in his freshman year.
Sarkisian owns a wealth of head coaching experience. He began his coaching career as the USSR National Team coach from 1980-1990 before becoming the National Team coach in his native Armenia from 1991-93.
He then moved to the United States where he was an assistant with Rose Bowl Aquatics in Pasadena, Calif., from 1993-98 before assuming the head coaching position with the Trojan Dive Club and the assistant coaching job at USC from 1998-2001. Sarkisian has earned a number of coaching accomplishments within USA and international diving, most notably serving as the USA National Team Coach for the 2003 and 2005 Pan-Am Games. He has coached at numerous FINA Grand Prix events and Olympic trials and training camps. In 1996, he was Armenia's National Team coach at the Atlanta Olympic Games.In 2008, Sarkisian served as Team USA's head coach at the Grand Prix meet in Moscow, Russia. He also was a selector at the U.S. Olympic Selection Camp for the 2008 Beijing Games and a judge at the 2008 Olympic Trials. In 2013, Sarkisian was selected as the head coach of the 12-member USA Diving contingent at the World University Games in Russia.
A 13-time Armenian national champion, Sarkisian competed internationally for the USSR. He graduated in 1980 with professional level training in sports science and education from the USSR State University of Physical Education in Yerevan, Armenia.