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For diving head coach Leslie Hasselbach Adams, the 2016-17 season has a bit of a different feel as it gets started. This team combines 10 upperclassmen with three freshmen, making for the most experienced squad the coach has had to work with, and she believes the team culture has never been better.
“I’m really excited to get this season started,” she said. “We have a brand-new cast of freshmen, and they have joined and mixed right into the chemistry of our team. They’ve already added to our team culture, which has been really nice to see. They were able to jump right in with both feet, with their toes pointed, and get to work.
“This is also one of our most experienced teams heading into a season. We have a majority of upperclassmen now, which is great. I believe that our depth keeps getting better and better as our program progresses, so I’m really excited to see how these ladies continue to progress as we work through the season. I know that our upperclassmen have come a long way in their journey in our program, and they’re doing some really great things right now.”
As the season gets underway, Hasselbach Adams has her team getting ready both in the pool practicing actual dives and out of the pool through “dry-land workouts.” Those workouts include focusing on flipping on trampolines and blocks as well as dry-land boards, where the divers land on a mat and thus can still work on technique off a board without being in the pool. But Hasselbach Adams also said that there is more to training than acrobatics.
“The big thing that we hone in on a weekly basis is practicing the mental side of our sport,” she noted. “Diving is a sport where you very much need to be on your mental game as well as your physical game. We are keeping them very mindful of staying true to their competitive mindset and consistently speaking the same language in the mental aspect of training leading up to competitions.”
A big part of that mental game is due to the fear factor of the sport, but it is the same fear factor that adds to the allure of the competitions for fans and athletes alike.
“Diving is a very unique and interesting sport,” explained Hasselbach Adams. “You get to see a lot of fearless young ladies jumping from really high things and spinning and twisting and entering the water flawlessly. It’s a chance to get out to McHugh Natatorium and see a sport that really has a big fear factor involved with it, and a sport that few people have ventured to try.
“It’s really incredible when you sit back and look at the sport of diving and the courage, patience, determination, drive and countless hours spent honing in on their craft that it takes to get to the point that these young ladies are at. It’s amazing, because they make it look so effortless.”
Though diving is an individual sport, the head coach hopes that the sense of “we” proves to be something that not only helps the community continue to recognize the team, but also helps the team recognize themselves as such throughout this season.
“My vision for this team is for them to bond even more and do it together. I really want for them to help empower each other. It’s not necessarily about the X’s and O’s this year. The brand of Clemson is becoming more and more renowned worldwide, and I really want our diving program to follow the path of the Paw.
“I want to see our team be that presence together and show everyone that ‘we’ are Clemson diving. It’s not ‘I’ am Clemson diving. If we nail that this year, it’s going to be an unbelievable season…the best season yet.”
September 26, 2021