Where do you live?
I live near the Grove- in the Shenandoah area.
How long have you lived in the area?
About two years. I’ve been in Miami for eight years now. I got a scholarship to the University of Miami for diving. I was a springboard diver for the University of Miami and then I also competed professionally for the USA.
What did you study at UM?
I did mechanical engineering with an emphasis on internal combustion engines.
What keeps you busy now during the week?
I retired from diving in December. Now, I work at Sea Hunter boats. I do quality control and I also help the marketing team. We take out all the boats and make sure they’re running properly before they’re delivered to the customers.
Does that tie into your mechanical engineering background?
Somewhat, not a whole lot yet. I’m very new. This is actually my first job ever.
Why did you decide to retire from diving?
I was competing for the next Olympics, but since 2015 I’ve suffered many back injuries. I went to the 2016 Olympics. I was able to train and compete and I tried to continue after 2016, but it didn’t work. I was tired of being in pain all the time and living that lifestyle. Pain all day. It just wasn’t healthy, so I knew it was time.
What was the biggest surprise for you at the 2016 Olympics?
To be honest, earning a silver medal there was phenomenal. It was a huge surprise, in a sense, because my snychro partner and I had only competed once before. Our first competition was the Olympic trials. That just doesn’t happen.
What event did you compete in?
I competed in the three-meter spring board and I specialized in synchro. Synchronized diving is when you dive with a partner and you want it to appear like it’s one person. You’ve got to have the same kind of technique, mechanics, and same body style. There’s a lot that comes into it. When it comes down to something that advanced, you only have an option between two to three people in the country to partner with.
Is it a tight knit community?
Extremely. It’s a very small community that I’m very close with and will love forever.
What was the most fun part about the Olympics?
Sharing that moment with my coach and my family. My coach was Randy Ableman at the University of Miami. In 1980, he made the Olympic team, but the Olympics were boycotted so he didn’t get to go. He’d been to six Olympics as a coach, but none of his athletes ever medaled. It was like his rebuttal to finally get a medal at the Olympics.
When you started diving, were you thinking about the Olympics?
I thought of getting a medal on the podium, but what are the odds – slim to none. Right? As you get closer and closer, it starts to fester in your head that it’s a possibility and the numbers start adding up. The training starts making sense and it gets closer and closer and you’re like, holy shit, I can do this. This is it. Here’s my chance. But, somehow that train of thought must get erased and forgotten about. Then, you focus on what needs to be done at hand because if you continuously focus on big picture, nothing will get done. If you perfect your process every single day and do the right thing every single day and always make the right choices, then that goal in mind will come to reality.
When did it start to become a reality for you?
It became very apparent as the days went on and we got closer. Once we made the team, it was time to really hammer down. You ask yourself, do you want to just go to the Olympics, or do you want to go to the Olympics and do something with yourself? I mean, you made it, so let’s do something.
Do you feel like you’ve taken that focus with you into your new career?
I really do. The past three months of my new job have been difficult to say the least. I’m learning what I like, what I don’t like, I’m just getting my feet wet and think once I can get my feet on the floor and really decide what I want to do with my life, that’s when I can start just running and getting in that good groove. Then, I can set my goals, make my plans, and execute.
What separates the athletes at the Olympics?
The single most important aspect of being an athlete is your mindset. Every single person at an Olympic level is physically 100%. But we are all also injured, to be honest. Every single one of us is injured. What we can do is change our mental awareness and stability. And if you can maintain that and harness and control it, that’s where you’re going to excel more than someone else.
Do you think diving will continue to be a part of your life?
I need to move on and then come back to it. I won’t be diving, but I’ll be doing something within the sport. I don’t want to leave the people. They keep me there.
Are the rumors about the Olympic village true?
I will say….Yes.
How often do you come to the Pinecrest market?
And what’s your ritual like when you come?
Every Sunday I come to your stand. I talk to Levi and usually Instagram him making the guacamole, because damn, he’s good. Then, I walk over and get your Rainbow smoothie, and then just hang out for a bit and enjoy the people watching. It’s usually a beautiful Sunday.
What do you get from other stands at the market?
Usually, you’re the only standard I come to. If I want a coffee, I’ll go get a coffee and sometimes I’ll get dog treats from Live Pawsitivly. You guys are the sole reason why I come.
What restaurants do you like to go out to?
Matsuri. Put any sushi in front of me, I’ll eat it.
What about for a special occasion? Where might you go?
The Farmer’s market on Sundays is a special occasion. I usually cook most of my meals during the week.
What do you like to cook?
I love breakfast. I can eat that all time. I’m very specific about my avocado toast. Start with Dave’s Killer Bread. Top with avocado or guacamole and then top with four fried quail eggs. Add a little powdered garlic, salt and pepper. Then, go to Milams and get their thick cut bacon. It must be from the deli. It’s really thick. Slow cook that and then top with a brown sugar syrup. To make the syrup, mix brown sugar, maple syrup and black pepper. Paint that on top of your bacon before you take it off the stove. It’s god’s gift to earth.
What’s a worthy splurge?
Drinking some beers with a bunch of good friends
What’s a good rainy-day activity?
Build something or Netflix
Do you participate in any community or philanthropic events that you would like to share?
Habitat for Humanity and the Jason Taylor foundation.
Is there a question you would like to ask us?
What’s your favorite color?
(A+W) Blue, Green, and Brown.
Where do you keep your Olympic medal?
Right by my bed