Climbing onto the board, the diver waits to take a deep breath before starting her hurdle. Slowly walking forward, she shakes her hands to get ready. Focused on her movements, the diver bounces on the board a few times to warm up. Taking one last jump, she leaps into the air, spins into a half tuck and hits the water smoothly, with barely even a splash.
According to Doug Mariano, diving coach for Woodland, Shaelin Digioia is the best freshman diver. He believes she is the best out of the four freshmen divers. Four may not seem like a large number, but it is a lot for Mariano.
“We have four new divers. All freshman. Having four brand new divers is a lot. Usually we get maybe one,” said Mariano.
Mariano complimented Digioia for her first meet and she earned it. He wants to make clear that he will only let the best divers dive at meets.
“I don’t just let anyone dive to dive; you’re going to earn it.”
And Digioia has earned it.
Digioia shows great effort when she is diving and she never hesitates to try new skills. She has also done gymnastics which has helped a lot in learning the skills she uses while diving. Gymnastics helps with form and not having the fear to jump off the diving board. Digioia says it has helped her because she is used to the feeling of flipping and twisting in the air for her skills. A lot of the movements in gymnastics are the same but, just the movements on the board is different like the hurdles and walks. Gymnastics really comes in handy when Digioia wants to get the right form and skills.
Not only is gymnastics helpful, but diving over the summer really helped as well. Digioia did an eight-week school program and a two-week clinic at Elite Diving in Cheshire, Connecticut. She did so well, her coaches thought she was ready to move up to “team” (“team” is a higher level than what she was in, which was “school”).
Attending the clinic helped Digioia get ready for high school diving. In Elite Diving, Digioia learned all of her skills before she came to Woodland Diving which really helped. She worked hard even before coming on the diving team.
Digioia feels joyfully overwhelmed hearing that she is the best freshman diver.
“I practice my approaches at home,” noted Digioia. “I work really hard at practice”.
Sometimes Digioia feels as if she may disappoint Coach Doug when she can’t do a skill he asks her to do. Although she feels that way, she knows he is proud of her.
“When he says I’m his best freshman diver it motivates me to do better and so then I can keep that reputation,” said Digioia, “I like the feeling of it, like he believes in me.”