“Guts, Grace, and Glory”: meet the South high school dive team

Josie Graves, Journalist

Football, baseball, and basketball, always in the headlines and the progress of their season is always at the front of everyone’s minds. But with these spotlight sports constantly crowding the front pages, it seems the other high school teams have been pushed into the background, never getting many acknowledgements. 

Swimming & diving especially are two that receive very little coverage and very few pay any attention to the highs and lows that coincide with any competitive athletic pass time. The latter above all is rarely mentioned in news shows, Schoology posts, or any other medium. But as this year has already come with countless changes, it seems a perfect time to shed some light on this lesser known team. 

This year, South has pulled together a good dive team, complete with girls passionate about excelling in the sport. Of the four of us, two are fairly new to diving but progressing quickly, and even with the new changes to the winter season, our team is working hard in and out of the pool to make up for a lack of time in the water. With this, and with the added pressure of a rapidly approaching state meet, our efforts in the pool have become clearly reflective of our individualized goals. 

Unlike past years, making it to states will not be the result of receiving a specific score. Only the top 20 highest scores from across all the schools in 4A will be allowed to compete in the state meet on March 11. The dive team only has 3 more meets to get these scores up to par, but they are hopeful that they can accomplish this in the short amount of time allotted. 

Along with the change to the running of the state meet, various other aspects of the winter season have seen its share of differences from previous years. The season, as many know, has been cut to only span seven weeks and due to the ongoing pandemic, spectators are not allowed to view competitions. In order to still allow friends and family to see the diver’s progress, each meet has been and will continue to be broadcasted through a Facebook live stream. 

Practices have also been subject to modifications that are needed to allow them to be appropriately conducted amid the pandemic. Along with South, East, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Northfield have been all combined into one. Each are still rivals of the others, only now the teams must practice together. However, the schools are broken up into cohorts as to have fewer girls on the boards at one time. This means each team gets to be in the water two days a week with an hour and a half practice times. Meets are always on Fridays, the first was at North High School, and the following ones will be held at Montbello. If there is any interest in supporting our divers by watching them compete, go check out the Nighthawk Nation Facebook page, where each meet should be uploaded. 

Meet the team:

Samantha Sankoff and Lily Perkins are two girls on the dive team this year. They are both amazing athletes with incredible work ethics and each has a deep passion for their sport. 

Sam is a 10th grader at South and has been diving for a little over a year. She started off her athletic career as a gymnast but after injuries prevented her from further progressing in the sport, she sought out a career in diving. 

“I started diving in order to continue my favorite parts of gymnastics without the fear of worsening my injury. I love the feeling of flipping through the air,” Sam said in an interview. She loves the excitement that every practice and dive, new or old, brings. It is thrilling to be able to do these kinds of tricks and land nicely, yet head first, in the water, willing your body to do things that perfectly defy our natural instincts as humans.

Like many of the other girls, Sam has her focus clearly set on regaining the skills that were lost over the course of the lockdown that began last year. This goal has been the foundation for her hard work in the pool, and even with the new Covid restrictions and less practice time, is incredibly attainable. Along with her personal goals, Sam is content with how the team as a whole is progressing and expanding, mentioning this while touching on the differences to this year’s season. “Last year, we practiced with GW divers as the South dive team consisted of 2 people, including myself.”  And now, unrelated to changes made due to the pandemic, she is excited to see that the team has gained two new divers. 

It is clear that Sam is an amazing diver with an admirable drive to improve. The love she has for this sport is undeniable and the school cannot wait to see how the rest of her season goes. In a final statement, Sam had one final comment about the South dive team:

“I would like to add that the dive team has been neglected in DPS for a long time. I am so excited that the team is beginning to be recognized and appreciated! I look forward to seeing how the dive team progresses!”

Lily Perkins is a freshman at South, but has been diving with a club team for a couple of years. She is very excited that this season is still able to continue amidst the pandemic, and has her eyes set on the state meet in March. Though she has yet to go to a meet, she has been working hard at both high school and club practices to get her dive list ready for when she can compete. Her love for the sport is apparent and her drive and determination to improve is incredibly visible in and out of the water. We cannot wait to see how she finishes up the season and the progress she makes on reaching her goal in these last few weeks. 

Diving is an incredible sport that takes lots of guts and grace to do. Nothing done in the water is easy and the hard work put in by each diver is apparent in how well they are progressing. It is true that the Covid-19 pandemic has put a damper on this season, but the team is still finding ways to make the best of each modification. We are working hard towards reaching our goals, respecting each guideline along the way, and are having a great time as we do it. This sport is amazing and deserves much more support and acknowledgements than what it has received thus far. Overall, we have a good team made up of amazing athletes who will only continue to improve as we finish up the season.