Karla Helder is in her ninth season as the men’s and women’s diving coach at the University at Buffalo and has helped the Bulls produce notable accomplishments in the diving program.
While at UB, Helder has been instrumental in developing a strong diving program that featured new school records for both the men’s and women’s teams. In her UB career, she has coached an ECAC men’s champion and two All-Mid-American Conference divers and 13 regional qualifiers, and helped lead UB divers to qualify for the NCAA meet for the first time in school history with Meili Carpenter making three National Championship appearances and achieving All-American honorable mention status in 2010 and men’s diver Michael McDowell competing at the 2010 championships.
A two-time NCAA Division II National Diving Coach of the Year, Helder came to Buffalo after nine seasons at the University of California at Davis, where Helder coached four national champions to four separate titles and 36 All-Americans. She was named PCSC Men’s Diving Coach of the Year in 2000 and 2003 and she also earned the conference’s Women’s Diving Coach of the Year award in 2001.
Helder has earned 30 national diving titles herself. Most recently, at the 2008 U.S. Master’s Nationals, she won her age group events, setting two new American records, breaking her own records set in 2004. In May 2008, she traveled to Perth, Australia for the World Master’s Diving Championships. She won broke both the 1-meter and 3-meter world records in her age group (50-54) on her way to winning 2 gold medals. In 2006, she set the world record for the 45-49 age group on 1-meter.
In addition to UC-Davis, Helder has coached at Chico State and Clemson University. She was also the coach for the Venezuela Junior National Team of Anzoategui in 1991. At the 2003 Junior Olympic Summer Nationals, she coached a 10-year-old to double golds on both one and three-meters, as well as leading her diver to two new 13-and-under records in those events.
Helder, a former two-time NCAA National Champion on the three-meter, is a 1982 graduate of Chico State University. In 1999, she was inducted into that institution’s athletic Hall of Fame.