It probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that I pursed sports; I come from a long line of athletes. My dad played college basketball, my grandfathers on both my mother and father’s sides played college basketball, my mother was a marathon runner, and my brother played college and professional baseball. Perhaps the surprise is that I didn’t pursue basketball or baseball. Instead, I grew up in the pool. I was what you might call a pool rat. I joined the dive team, but the coach quickly told my parents that I should consider taking diving seriously. Since I was also a gymnast, I had some understanding of the technique required and showed progress pretty quickly. I made my first national team in 5th grade and even though I got last place, I was hooked.
“There may be people that have more talent than you, but there’s no excuse for anyone to work harder than you do.” – Derek Jeter, Longtime Yankees Shortstop
I spent the next year traveling to states competing, but it became clear that I needed focus. I had the talent, but couldn’t control my dives. So, by 7th grade I quit all other casual sports and focused solely on diving. Then I faced one of my biggest challenges to date: I shattered my foot and required reconstructive surgery, which took me off the diving board for almost an entire year.
“Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure our how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.” – Michael Jordan, Former Professional Basketball Player
I found my way through it. I showed up to practice every single day. I might not have been able to get on the diving board or in the pool, but I put in what work I could and found ways to keep up my training. Once I was able to get back on the diving board, I did and I didn’t give up, I pushed harder. I won my first national title at 16 and knew then it was getting serious. In high school I was recruited by the University of Miami and offered a full scholarship.
Injuries continued to challenge my progress, but I had to persevere. Under University of Miami’s coaches, Olympians Randy Ableman and Dario Di Fazio, I won my first U.S. National Championship in 2013, sweeping all the springboard events. Later that year I made the USA National Team in Synchronized Diving with partner Zach Nees and we traveled the world competing for the USA. Then in 2014 I made the USA team again, but this time with Olympic Gold Medalist David Boudia as my partner. We placed 4th at the World Cup that same year. After David retired from springboard events, I switched partners and made the 2015 U.S. National Team with Kristian Ipsen, the 2012 Olympic Bronze Medalist. Kristian and I competed and qualified for the 2016 Olympic Trials, but two months before the trials, I switched partners; Kristian went back to his only other partner and I partnered with Michael Hixon.
“He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.” – Muhammad Ali, Boxer, Philanthropist, Social Activist
The 2016 Olympic Trials would be our first competition together. It was a risk going into a major qualifying tournament where we faced the 2012 Olympic Bronze Medalists, Kristian Ipsen and Troy Dumais, but ultimately one that paid off. Michael and I made the Olympic Team! We headed to Rio for the Summer 2016 Olympic games where we competed and took home the silver medal! Now as an official member of Team USA, I travel the world representing the U.S. at competitions with the goal of making the 2020 Olympic Team to compete for gold in Tokyo.