By Bob Nuse, Sports Editor
Winning is nice. But for Kathy Mallon, the most important aspect of summer diving is the experience as a whole.
“I am not about points,” said Mallon, the coach of the Community Park team that captured the PASDA Diving championship last week. “I don’t know how much we won by. To me if they did well, that is what is important to me. Did you feel like you dove well? Did you have fun? Is so, then I am proud of you.
“The important things to me are growing as an athlete and person, as well as sportsmanship. Those are the important things to me. That is what we concentrate on. It’s nice to have a championship. But we’re all about fun and that is our motto.”
Not only did CP have fun at the championship meet, but they also won. The Bluefish finished with 423 points to outdistance Lawrenceville Swimming Association and Ben Franklin for the title.
“We have a fabulous team,” Mallon said. “We have a lot of depth, which for a championship team is key. It’s not just winning individual events. It is also about having the depth and those kids do well.”
CP had its share of individual winners, as Zach Feola won the 12-and-under boys division and the 12-and-under open boys division, Piper Dubow won the 10-and-under girls, Carolyn Maslanka won the 18-and-under girls, and Lizzy Hare won the 18-and-under girls open.
In all, 23 different divers from CP scored in the meet to help the team to the championship.
“I am proud of all of their hard work and each diver putting their ‘best foot’ forward,” CP coach Nicole Arioso added. “All of their hard work and bounces on the diving board and pointing their toes really paid off. We want the kids to have fun an continue to grow as individuals. What I have learned from watching them is how brave they are. It’s not easy to get up there on the diving board.”
The Bluefish won with a great combination of top divers and their depth. They got plenty of points from their winners, but also had plenty of help from the rest of the team.
“Zach Feola was a double winner in the 12-and-under and 12-and-under open boys and that was exciting, especially for his first year,” Mallon said. “He is a natural talent. And Lizzie Hare won the open. Carolyn Maslanka, her brother dove for Montgomery High and got a partial scholarship to Rider. She and her sister, Sara, are following in his footsteps.”
Mallon and Arioso, as well as the rest of the coaching staff of Adam Inbar and Annie Hathaway, were so focused on the divers just doing their best that they didn’t realize the team was in the running for a title until the meet was nearly over.
“I didn’t know we were winning,” Arioso said. “When our divers got points I was pleasantly surprised. I am just so proud of the kids. To watch some of the divers who had never done it before come and dive in a really big meet like this was great. To see them smiling and leaving it all out on the water, it was great to be a part of.”
Mallon was part of PASDA as a diver herself and has been coaching for years. Being able to see divers come into the sport and watch them progress is what makes it special.
“I love it,” Mallon said. “I enjoy sharing my love for the sport and teaching them the ups and downs and life lessons that go with a sport and teaching them to grow as a person. As a diver you are up there alone. It is you alone and you have to have that inner strength to go for it.
“It is a different kind of sport than a lot of others. It takes guts and mental power. It is really a mental sport as well as ability. You have to get over the mental fear. I get so proud of the kids when they learn something new. I get goose bumps.”
By Bob Nuse, Sports Editor