13 days post breaking my foot, I competed in my final Big Ten Championships as an Iowa Hawkeye. It was not pretty, and it was painful, but it got done. Did I train any of my dives before the meet? Not really. Monday I could hardly do a front jump, and only attempted my dives the day before the event.
Diving on a broken foot isn’t something I wanted to do. Coming second last wasn’t the plan. Scoring 225 point when the goal was 300 is not something I would typically be proud of. This is not the week I planned to end my Big Ten career on at all- but life happens. Shit happens and sometimes it has horrible timing and I was dead set on not letting a broken foot define my exit as a Senior student-athlete.
This is not some heroic story of how I rose above the pain and rose to the occasion- I cried every single practice I did anything beyond a front jump. During the meet warm up my coach called me over and let me know it was okay if I couldn’t dive. He was perfectly okay with letting this one go and letting me bow out, and I told him I couldn’t. I didn’t train for five years to NOT dive.
I will never make a Big Ten Final and that sucks. That’s probably the crappiest timing and luck I have ever experienced and I don’t get another chance at it. I’ve been looking for the rhyme or reason, the meaning behind it, and so far I’ve drawn a blank. I don’t know how or why I broke my foot and there’s a good chance I never will. I can also never say I didn’t give it my all. I used up all I had in me Thursday to get off six mediocre dives, and those six dives are more representative of me as a person than if I hadn’t broken my foot. I am most likely more proud of the dives I did Thursday, off of one foot, than if I had put together a great list and came 9th or 10th.
If I hadn’t gotten injured, the goal would was been Top 8 on both boards, without a doubt. Anything less than that would have been a “failure”. I would have felt defeated- I would have been devastated and furious and who knows what else. After breaking my foot, I can come 35th and walk away satisfied. Am I still upset and furious and just plain sad that I didn’t get the chance to make a final? YES. But sometimes the plan changes. Sometimes you have to roll with the punches and deal with whatever cards your dealt and everyone cliche in the book about going with it.
Friday was the 3m event, the event I’d been training for for years, and it went on without me. Eight girls made finals and eight girls made consolation finals, and I wasn’t any of them. There is nothing I can do about that and that’s okay. Not being able to dive all three events, or even any event well, on a broken foot isn’t a failure, or a definition of an athlete.
I am not a failure. An injury before my final conference meet does not make my career not worthwhile, or anything less than what it has been. To quote one of my favorite Olympians…
“I’ve always known you don’t accomplish all you set out to do in this sport, but it’s never made me afraid to try. It has never made me second guess getting back up after every knock down or putting the frailty of being human on display for all to see.
I signed up for this and it’s still the time of my life, therefore I choose to accept everything that happens during this formidable chapter in it.”
College diving isn’t over- we still have the NCAA Zone Meet in two and a half weeks to try and qualify for NCAA Nationals. Hopefully by then I’ll be a little more recovered. This has still been the best years of my life, hands down, and the immense pride I feel is giving the competition a shot is right up there with various other accomplishments other the years. No one can say I didn’t give it my all to come back for this meet. And yeah, my definition of success changed. It changed drastically, from finals to finishing, and I am more than okay to count this Big Ten Championships as a success.
Event Aftermath: I’m not allowed to dive again for a week. It took 6 Tylenol and 2 surgical painkillers to get me through the day (with my athletic trainer’s supervision nobody panic). I used 6 layers of tape in various patterns and a rubber wedge around the outside of my foot to dive in. The swelling came back with a vengeance, but calmed down after staying off it for a day. The bruising got darker everywhere it wasn’t taped. I was so sore the next morning you would have thought I did a marathon hopping on one foot, falling all over the hotel room. I only cried after one dive during the event, and then plenty of tears after- a mixture of pain and relief and happiness.
I’m a whole mixture of emotions right now. I am fine and I am going to be fine- I am sad but I’m proud. I figure all of that is normal
(or maybe it’s the Tylenol). My biggest goals now are to rest, recover, and refocus. Oh, and be the loudest girl cheering on the pool deck. GO HAWKS! :)