The original version of the photo caption accompanying this article contained an error and has been changed. See the bottom of the article for more information.
The first time for anything always means nerves.
The case is no different for UCLA’s dive team, which will be competing in the Trojan Invitational this weekend at USC.
The three-day meet marks the beginning of a new season for the young divers, a team that includes just two freshman, two sophomores, only one junior and no seniors. The team’s inexperience has led to a bit of anxiety as the Bruins head into their first competition.
“They are concerned and they feel a little nervous, and understandably,” said coach Tom Stebbins. “We just haven’t done a lot of reps yet, but they are diving very well.”
While the team has been practicing since mid-September, it has only begun doing reps of its full dives – the ones it will perform in competition – this past week. What the team has instead been doing at practice is a lot of drill work and focus on the basics of the sport, something junior Montana Monahan believes has really helped to prepare the team.
“Starting with the fundamentals is like your groundwork throughout the year. Without the fundamentals, you skip all the important (things) that build bigger and greater dives to increase your degree of difficulty later on,” Monahan said.
The team has honed in on the details of its techniques in order to give it a chance to place this week when it faces off against crosstown rival USC and several other teams.
The Bruins do feel that what they have been working on has made them ready to take on these other schools. They also understand that they must use their confidence and poise to calm their first-meet nerves.
“I think it’s going to be a good practice meet for us,” said sophomore Annika Lenz. “We need to relax and just be confident and have positive attitudes.”
Monahan agreed that trusting themselves is key for her and her teammates going into this weekend.
“(We should be) just really focusing and knowing that you can do the dive and that your body knows what you are doing,” Monahan said.
Regardless of how nervous the divers may be, their coach sees just how much talent this team possesses.
“I think that they’re more ready than they think they are,” Stebbins said. “Once they settle in and once they kind of get through the first couple rounds where maybe their nerves are a little shaky, I think that they’ll start to realize how good they are.”
Correction: The caption misidentified junior Montana Monahan as sophomore Annika Len.