When Nicole Fazio was a freshman, there were only two divers on the Division III Diving Team. Now armed with three seniors, three sophomores, and a freshman, the CC Diving Team looks to make a huge impact on SCAC this season.
Two of the current seniors, Reggie Anderson and Danny Condren, came to diving practice sophomore year with no experience, as the team needed any male diver to score a point for the team. Since their year, the diving program has grown immensely, adding two new divers, Sam Buxbaum and Ann Fenley, to reinforce the success of younger divers like Austin Howlett, who received SCAC Diver of the Year last year as a freshman.
At the start of the season, Assistant Coach Jim Hawking told the team that it felt like they hadn’t missed the summer. The divers were already mentally prepared after a long offseason and jumped right into practices. The team already meets for regular practices and early morning lifting sessions to get ready for the surge of upcoming meets. A new rig in the pool helps, especially for land training, by harnessing the diver by the waist as he or she jumps, suspended above a mat, with no need to worry about injury upon landing.
“It’s a great learning tool because you can visually do the entire dive without that fear aspect attached to it,” Head Coach Ellen Walker said.
After going to Minnesota with six of their seven members, the team has already bonded well, integrating with the men’s and women’s swim teams as well. After morning lifting sessions, they all sit as a team in Rastall for breakfast before class. Even with new members such as Buxbaum, who have limited diving experience, the team remains a little family in supporting each other every day in and out of the pool.
“When you do a new dive for the first time, high fives all around, just smiles from everyone; there’s no real jealous factor,” Buxbaum said.
Much of the energy in practice originates from the enthusiasm for the sport. Teammates smile and talk while doing abdomen routines, or sometimes have a “dice practice,” where each diver must perform a different kind of dive in accordance with the numbers on a die, according to Buxbaum. Much of their success comes from this challenging yet relaxed atmosphere. The team make a conscious effort to have fun, an attribute often lost in the competitive college athletics environment.
“Swimmers, they don’t have fun in practice, and I feel like [for] a lot of teams, it’s just that practice sucks for them; us, practice is the highlight of my day,” Condren said.
“Sometimes I can’t get them to be done with practice. It’s time to go home now, it’s time to rest, it’s time to study.” Walker joked.
The team has suffered very few injuries aside from the occasional board scrape, although people get sick a lot just because of the intense practices and scheduling, according to Anderson. Overcoming these obstacles, the team and coach Walker have high hopes of taking home the SCAC title this year.
Their main competition this season is Trinity University, yet the Tigers’ chances look optimistic as Trinity lost an influential senior diver last year.
Howlett said, “They do a great job at recruiting, so I imagine, you know, they have some divers up their sleeves.”
With the team’s experienced three seniors, Fazio and Howlett, as NCAA qualifiers, fresh talent and members like sophomore Jessica Badgeley ready to step up, the team’s energy is already high.
“I’m just trying to keep up, even as a senior on the team. You love to see your underclassmen performing well on a consistent basis,” Anderson joked.
With most of their meets this year at home, the Tigers hope to bring larger crowds for what looks to be a historical season. Be sure to see them twist and flip their way to victory at their next home meet on Nov. 17 in Schlessman Natatorium.