Once A Hawkeye…

Well this is it, the “was” post. I “was” a college athlete. I “used to” compete in the NCAA.

We all knew it was coming, I wasn’t under any false pretenses that by some miracle they would let me stay another year or three. As of March 11, 2015, the journey that started when I took my recruiting trip in November of 2009 officially closed.

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I was assuming this would be a sad post, an emotional one. One that I would cry writing and cry publishing and cry rereading (in case you couldn’t tell, I’ve done a lot of crying this week). But sitting here now 24 hours removed from my “student-athlete” status I don’t feel like my heart is broken. I was prepared for this day and I’m allowed to be emotional, even if it stings more than I thought.

After five years of training and four weeks after breaking my foot, I competed in all three events at the NCAA Zone Diving Championships. I didn’t have to change any of my dives to easier options which was a huge accomplishment for me, and while I was no where near my original goal of qualifying for the NCAA National Championships I’m counting the week as a huge success- we had three Hawkeyes qualify for Nationals and I got to finish my collegiate career with the greatest people I have ever met.

There’s a lot I could focus on in regards to the last five years, and I am choosing to focus on what matters. The positives and the goals achieved and every struggle that brought a life lesson- not the marks I missed due to injury or other reasons.

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From the Senior Recognition at the Big Ten Championships. I was probably trying not to cry then too.

This experience simply would not have been possible without the support of my incredible family, and the trust they put in me to move to another country at 19. It would not have been possible without the coach that brought me to Iowa and the belief he had in me to succeed, and the coach that followed him, who believed in me the same. I would not be the same athlete without them, or anywhere close. And more than I could have possibly imagined, I could not have done this without our athletic trainer. After my injury he was the most optimistic person I could turn to while being realistic about my diving (and walking around) capabilities. He dedicated multiple hours everyday since to make sure I could be on the board for my final college meets, and I can never summarize what that meant to me. He never doubted my determination to finish the season, and was right there every time I was ready to push myself. I can never be thankful enough for the people I have surrounded myself with over the past five seasons.

What made my career, more than the goals and the training and the results, were my team. I have been luckier than I ever dreamed to be able to train with them. From everyone on the team in 2010 to everyone on the team now, having doubled in size, I have felt so fortune to have known each and every one. Now training with 13 people, only three girls have been together for the entirety of my career. I got to witness one achieve the ultimate, qualifying for the NCAA’s, and see one rip her last dive of a 14 year career (Oh shoot I made it this far without crying while writing) (to be fair she was crying during the dive, I’m allowed to cry thinking about it). From every triumph to every failure in and out of the pool- from high school boyfriends to grad schools and training camps and apartments, they have been the biggest blessing I have ever received. While we have been struggling to figure out who we are going to now that we are not student-athletes, we have the been the rocks in each others lives. They have been my biggest cheerleaders when I was injured and I was their biggest fans when I was sidelined. We all cried when we succeeded, and we all cried together when two of us finished our Hawkeye careers (seriously, it was comical. The men’s team knew to give us a few moments each day to cry it out before joining the team meeting).

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Day two of competition- minimal tear day

I have absolutely no idea what my life is going to look like in a year, but I know who is going to be there for me. I don’t know exactly what job I’m going to have and what my life will look like, even though I generally know I’ll be working and training (this isn’t a retirement post thank goodness!). This will be the first time I’m not registering for class, and I don’t have to worry anymore about blowing my amateur status. I’m looking at things like health insurance and work visa paperwork and graduation transcripts and gahhhh. Real life sneaks up on you when you’re trying to enjoy every last second of your college career.

Oh gosh, well this turned into a rant. To summarize, I am excited, and scared, and heart broken and proud and so so thankful this is how I choose to continue to my diving career. I will bleed Black and Gold for the rest of my life, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. No matter where I am in a year, or ten years, I will always be a Hawkeye.

From the first big meet,

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to the last.

The extent to which I could point my broken foot with that much tape was a bonus in itself!

I promise less emotional train wreck posts in the future while I navigate the ever-looming college graduation, spring break in Denver, and where ever this road may take me! Go Hawks!

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