Student-athlete foresees a bright future

By J1 reporter Ashley Doehner

The only thing that can turn aspirations into a reality is hard work and determination. Junior Nettie Knapton is working the long haul to achieve her goals of one-day diving with Team USA or at the Olympics.  

Junior Nettie Knapton mid-dive at 2018 Kansas meet. Photo courtesy of Nettie Knapton

Nettie has been a devoted diver since she started in third grade after watching her older sister dive. So far, she has been a member of Conroe Dive Club, Team A&M, and currently the Nebraska Diving Club (NDC).

Kris Hoffman, Nettie’s coach and owner of NDC, has worked with her for the past eight years. He says that Nettie has “grown in confidence in and out of the pool.” Hoffman says he believes that she “isn’t yet aware of what she is capable of.” Hoffman foresees Nettie receiving a diving scholarship and furthering her diving career. 

Normally, Nettie’s practice schedule would consist of 18 hours a week, over the course of six days. Although, due to COVID-19 restrictions, she is practicing five days a week for about two hours each day. On top of this demanding schedule is an hour commute to practices in Lincoln. Nettie’s mother is her usual chauffeur, although after turning 16 she occasionally drives herself. 

Nettie claims that she has many motivators supporting her. In particular, her coaches and teammates push her to try new things. “When one person tries a new dive, then everyone has to try it,” Nettie said. She said she believes that their friendly competition has gotten her to attempt many new dives including a 107 c, a three and a half from a 3-meter springboard. 

Junior Nettie Knapton at 2019 Zones in Iowa. Photo courtesy of Nettie Knapton

Another huge motivator for Nettie is her sister Abigail Knapton, a diver and senior at the University of Nebraska Lincoln and a member of Team USA. She was on track to go to the 2020 Olympic trials, but due to COVID-19, they have been moved to the summer of 2021. Currently, she is training thoroughly. “I have a shot at an Olympic spot, and I want to make sure I leave no stone left unturned,” Abigail said. Nettie will be able to attend the trials next summer to learn and support her sister.  

“It is pretty cool that I get to be someone she looks up to,” Abigail said. She often encourages her sister and gives her advice from her own experiences. Nettie plans to follow in her sister’s footsteps of receiving an athletic scholarship and becoming a part of a national diving team.  She is preparing to reach out to college scouts through athletic visits and diving videos. 

Although she does not have any concrete decisions made, she has connections with teams at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln and the University of Wyoming. Nettie is also interested in applying to the Air Force Academy. However, she explained that she is “keeping her options open for now.” As for being a member of Team USA, she hopes to catch the attention of the scouts through her dives and scores.

Nettie is continuing to work hard at her sport to improve every day. Her efforts in diving have made for a bright future that could lead to her participation in a nationally acclaimed team. 

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