Friday, December 15, 2006
Steamboat Springs Moffat County diving coach Dave Fix laughs about the first time he saw Steamboat Springs freshman Genna Bradley at one of his diving sessions.
"She showed up the first day in a bikini," Fix said. "She came strutting down there, and all I can think is, 'Nobody getting ready to dive ever wears a bikini.'"
A lot has changed since that July day.
Bradley now wears a more conventional swimming suit, and Fix no longer laughs. Instead, he beams when talking about Bradley's potential on the diving board.
"Immediately I knew she had talent," Fix said. "She's got the ability to do state all four years and get a diving scholarship."
That may seem like quite a stretch for a girl who has been diving for only five months. It all started one afternoon at the Craig wave pool.
While "just playing and jumping off the diving board," a lifeguard approached Bradley and a friend and suggested they go to a diving camp Fix holds every summer.
Bradley, who had decided to give up her first love - gymnastics - said she would give diving a try. The longtime gymnast had reached a level for which there wasn't a qualified coach in Steamboat to help her progress further. And because of her love for the Yampa Valley, Bradley decided trips to the Front Range for gymnastics wouldn't be worth it. So instead she found the two sports most closely related to gymnastics: cheerleading and diving.
Bradley helped the Steamboat Springs cheerleading team to a ninth-place finish at the state championships, and she also won best tumbling at the regional meet in Grand Junction, where she was the only competitor to do a full twisting back flip.
"They're both really fun," Bradley said about cheerleading and diving. "Diving is different than anything I've ever done. I want to get a scholarship for cheerleading, and if I could get one for diving it would be amazing."
Bradley's quest to impress started Saturday at Denver University in her first diving competition.
Competing against 33 divers, Bradley took home fifth and finished just 40 points away from qualifying for state.
"My goal with a new diver is to get them to do well in regionals," said Fix, who has coached the diving team for three years and had success in the Chicago area as a prep standout. "After this weekend, we agreed our new goal is to get to state. Basically, Genna made a statement. She has the potential to finish in the top 15 of state."
Whether Bradley fulfills those expectations remains to be seen. But Fix said he's never coached a diver with her natural ability.
"She's the toughest girl I've ever had. That's going to make her a really good diver," Fix said. "She's got athletic ability that's unbelievable. I think if you tossed her in any sport she would do well. Really, she can go as far as she wants to."