Melissa Briley Mieras
Born and raised in Houston, Texas, Melissa Briley Mieras began her diving career at the famed Shamrock Hilton under the tutelage of TSDHOF inductee Nancy (Duty) Cunningham. The success of aquatic sports at the Shamrock produced numerous other TSDHOF inductees: Phil Hansel, swimming coach, Joy Cushman, synchronized swimming coach, diver Cynthia Potter, and swimmer John Vogel. It could not have been a better place for a seven-year-old to begin a successful 16-year journey in competitive diving.
Summers in the ‘60s and ‘70s were spent at the Shamrock, while winters were spent training at the Dad’s Club YMCA (recipient of the Wally Pryor Distinguished Team award), where the diving team was coached by another TSDHOF inductee, Kuni Schultz. In her young career, Melissa was certainly surrounded by excellence, thus starting her off on a path to excellence herself. Throughout her age group years, she often found herself on top of the podium at Houston meets and around the state at many TAGS events as well as nationally. In 1971, Melissa was honored with the Gulf AAU sports appreciation award for accomplishments in sportsmanship and in the sport of diving.
Melissa’s success continued through her college years. In the early 1970s, Title IX was enacted in part to provide female athletes with equal scholarship opportunities as their male counterparts. The University of Miami (Florida) was the first school in the country to jump on board and awarded an athletic scholarship to Melissa, making her the first female diver in the country to receive such an honor. During her freshman (‘74-‘75) and sophomore (‘75-‘76) years, the University of Miami won the collegiate swimming and diving national championship (then the AIAW, now the NCAAs). While competing for the “U”, she was a four-year all-American and was inducted into the University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame in 1992.
Internationally for the United States diving team, Melissa was a success as well. In 1975, she competed in the Pan American Games in Mexico City, placing fourth on the platform. As a member of the 1976 U.S. Olympic team in Montreal, Canada, she had a seventh-place finish and at the 1978 World Aquatic Games in West Berlin, Germany, she won the bronze medal. By the time she retired from competitive diving in 1980, Melissa had also won four national U.S. diving championships and traveled with the U.S. national diving team to numerous countries, winning many international events.
Her retirement brought her back to the state of Texas where her heart and family resided. In 1984 she moved to San Antonio to go to school at the UTHSC where she got a degree in physical therapy. This is where she met her husband Tom who has an internal medicine practice. They have three sons: Ryan, Shawn and Michael. For a few years in the 1990s, Melissa was on the board of the San Antonio Sports Foundation (now San Antonio Sports), which was organized to promote and lure sporting events to San Antonio. During that time she was honored to be inducted into the San Antonio Women’s Hall of Fame in 1996.
Melissa continues to be in touch with her extended diving family and has attended nearly every Olympic Diving Trials since her retirement, continuing the family-oriented tradition that the sport of diving has created.