Thursday, February 24, 2011


Last week I had the opportunity to judge diving at the Division III Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference.  After 17 years as a diver and 6 months as a coach, this was my first time in the judging hot seat.  I'll admit, I was pretty nervous.  I understand how diving is judged, I know the rules, but Division III is a bit of a different animal because you have such a variety of athletes.  You have the divers who just threw together a list after joining the team following a PE class that introduced them to diving for the first time in college.  Then there are the divers that have been competing since age groups that could perform very well at the Division I championships. 

Initially, I found myself judging a bit like Simon Cowell:
I didn't mean to, I was just judging more like a US meet rather than a D III college meet.  Realizing that most of the divers were new to the sport and were so passionate about it, I found myself falling into more of a Paula Abdul kind of judging state, hoping to encourage them to keep working hard:

On the fourth and final day of competition, the women's 3 meter springboard really captured my attention.  There were 3 girls that were close after the optional rounds, all within striking distance for the Conference Title.  The girl that had led the optional rounds fell to third after the voluntary rounds, but only 2 points out of first.  The girl that was in third place after optionals took the lead with one dive left.  The girl that was second after optionals pulled ahead by .05 in the last dive. At every level of competition there are exciting dramas played out on the sports field, and I love when I get swept up in the excitement!

But my heart broke walking out of the pool that day.  There was a young lady that had failed two dives, and she was crying because that disqualified her from the competition.  I wish I had had words to encourage her in that moment but the sight of her just struck me deep and my heart just hurt for her.  I don't think she has been diving very long, and I think she may have been on the team that didn't have a diving coach.  But that doesn't mean she doesn't care or isn't passionate about what she's doing.  The passion and love for the sport of diving that this group of athletes showed, far exceeds the passion that I see at many high level, even Olympic level events.  So many athletes at the top just do it because they happen to be good at it, a parent has pushed them, it's a way to make a good living, or they just don't know what else to do.  Honestly, I would say that probably just a small handful of elite level athletes actually have a true passion and love for their sport.  Not that they never had passion mind you, but for many, the passion fades into something else as they rise through the rankings.

Seeing this raw passion from so many athletes at this D III meet really hit home, reminding me of me when I started and how I got through some difficult times.  If I could go back and tell that young diver something, I would tell her to keep working hard!  When you love what you do, it doesn't matter what the world thinks, give it all you have and enjoy every step.  That is passion played out, the only true perfection any athlete can strive for...

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Post V-Day Thoughts

There was a time where I didn't care about Valentine's Day (except for the excuse to eat a lot of chocolate), then there was a time where I absolutely despised it, and now, honestly, I could take it or leave it.

When I was single I either avoided the thought of it altogether or I would sulk about it all night long.  It's definitely different now being married, always having that special someone if we want to do something nice on this random day of February, but now that I have this special Valentine, I wonder why we make a random day to celebrate this union.  We already have our anniversary which is a much more special day, and we can go on a date any time we choose.  Valentine's Day just doesn't seem to mean a whole lot to me (other than the chocolate that I can still always go for).

But looking back when I was a little younger and remembering how hard it was to watch people couple off on that day when I was left alone to myself, I wish I had known then better where to find true love and fulfillment.

Even if you've found your perfect match, that person will still occasionally let you down, make you mad, or disappoint you.  Our most ideal mate is still human, prone to falling short of perfection... just like us.  But there is One who has declared His love for us before we even knew He existed.  He wrote an entire love story for us full of adventure, battles, romance and a happily-ever-after ending that we all seem to long for.  He's the One Who can truly fulfill that empty space in our hearts that people and things just won't ever complete.  He is faithful to His promises and will never forsake us. On Valentine's Day and every other day of the year, we can celebrate true love with the One who is Love.

"Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends." John 15:13

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved."  John 3:16-17

"This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins." 1 John 4:10

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Texas Sports Hall of Fame

On Monday night I had the great honor of being inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in Waco, TX.  I had thought this was more of a Hall of Fame for professional men's sports as there aren't a whole lot of women or amateur athletes that have been inducted.  But low and behold they voted little old me into the 2010 class, becoming the second diver inducted (David "Skippy" Browning) and the 18th woman out of 320 inductees.
I'm still surprised and greatly honored that the committee that voted me in views my accomplishments within the realm of these other amazing athletes and people.  Donna Lopiano was another inductee this year and she is one of the people who paved the way for women athletes in college at University of Texas, me being one of those athletes who greatly benefited.  The other amazing inductees were Pro Football Hall of Famers John Randle, the Vikings standout, and Emmitt Thomas, who played for the Kansas City Chiefs; Baseball Hall of Fame honoree Willie Wells, an Austin native who played in the Negro Leagues from the 1920s through the 1940s, former NFL quarterback Charley Johnson, Dallas Cowboys founder Clint Murchison Jr., former Cowboys receiver Drew Pearson and former Rangers catcher Jim Sundberg.
(We weren't totally ready for the above pic, but it'll do!)
The whole evening was so exciting and I'm thrilled that both my college coach, Matt Scoggin, and my long time club coach (17 years), Kenny Armstrong, were both able to be there with my family!  

I grew up as a gymnast wanting to be the next Mary Lou Retton long before I ever found my way into diving.  Of all the amazing things about this experience, one that really tickles my fancy is that I now have my Wheaties Box next to Mary Lou Retton's Wheaties Box in the Hall of Fame.
Ah... thanks God for allowing such a fun and special evening for my family and friends!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Through the Lens

We just got a new camera for Christmas and took a basic class to figure out how to use this fancy thing.  I've always loved pictures and the artistic way some people have a knack for shooting because it allows you to see the world through different eyes, a whole new perspective on life.

I am by no means a photographer and have no ambitions of becoming one, but I enjoy being behind the lens striving for that different angle, that fresh look at something ordinary. 

Here was my little peek through the lens today at the perfect ice droplets we had on our rose bush:

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Bubble

I live in a bubble.  It's a magically beautiful place in suburbia full of middle and upper class people that work very hard, keep up with all the latest trends deemed important by every magazine and seem to have captured the American Dream. By all appearances, it would be the modern day fairytale kingdom where every princess wants to find her prince and live happily ever after. 

I sort of did that.  In the land of families, I found my single handsome prince who swept me off my feet (mainly because when we met I had one leg in a big purple cast), and we have lived happily since then in our small little patio home kingdom in the back of the woods. 

I moved here because it was the best place to train.  My prince moved here because it was a great place to coach.  We stayed because it's beautiful, has everything we need within a 10 minute commute, and seems to be this safe little place that everyone refers to as "The Bubble" because no one ever really travels outside of it.  There's just no need to.

But what I'm beginning to discover in my magical bubble land is that I have trapped myself with empty distractions, meaningless things to do, and some very backwards priorities.  I've just really noticed lately that all around me people are doing the same thing and we just don't seem to realize it.  It's time for us to wake up and pop our bubble.

One of the reasons I like my bubble is that I feel safe in it.  But feeling safe and secure tucked away inside my comfort zone is the opposite of stepping out and trusting God.  When we sit still in our pretend security, we become stagnant and stop growing.

Another reason I have liked my bubble is that I seem to have endless entertainment.  But I'm tired of wasting the precious minutes of this one life I have been given to be entertained.  I want to serve.  I've volunteered a ton and helped a lot of people out, but if I'm truly honest with myself, it has not been with a servant's heart.  It's been with a heart wanting to hear praise for my efforts and feel good about myself.  I'm so tired of my own pride and vanity.  I'm ready to serve so people praise God!  (Matthew 5:16)

Along with endless entertainment, in my bubble I can always find something to do and keep me occupied.  These things easily suck me in, and then I begin to make them my priorities.  They may look good on the surface, but when you break it down, they are often empty and truly meaningless. 

God loved me while I was still His enemy.  He died intentionally to pay a debt I could never pay on my own and to top that off, when I accept this amazing gift of grace, I have a place in eternity with Him.  How can anything, no matter how good it looks here with our earthly goggles on, come even close to that?  Why do we care so much about keeping up with the Joneses when they can't buy us a ticket to heaven?  Why aren't we sharing this great news with the Joneses?

These are just a few of the reasons that I'm ready to pop my bubble.  I'm ready to live a life full of true glory; not pretend, trendy, earthly glory that fades every 15 minutes and requires you to continually live up to some random person in the media's standards of greatness.  I'm ready to live a life that center's around an unchanging God who's love knows no bounds and Who has written the greatest love story in history specifically for each one of us.  There is truly no match for happily ever after in heaven with our Savior.