Girls Swimming, Player Profiles, Winter Sports

Athlete of the Week: Reese Pelletier ’20 Translates Gymnastics Experience to Andover Diving

Reese Pelletier ’20, a two-year Lower from Andover, Mass., has been a vital asset to Andover Girls Swimming & Diving with her consistent top performances. Despite Andover’s broken diving board for the past two weeks, Pelletier has proven herself to be a dominating force on the team with a second-place finish against Deerfield. As an exemplary diver and role model in the team both in her skills and positive mindset, Pelletier has been awarded The Phillipian’s Athlete of the Week.

Zack Peng ’21 said, “Reese possesses the perfect balance of both focus and fun. During practice whenever she is on the board, she is focused and ready to dive. This encourages the rest of the team to also be focused and ready to go when we are on the board. In addition, Reese definitely shows leadership. It is almost as if she keeps the team in check and balance in between fun and focus. She demonstrates these good traits and sets a good example for all of us on the team.”

How did you get into the sport of diving?

For nine years I competed as a gymnast and retired for injury after breaking my back at the end of the eighth year. Coming from gymnastics meant I had plenty of experience… flipping and twisting, so diving came as an obvious transition from gymnastics. Additionally, the impact on my body significantly decreased in diving than in gymnastics, thus it was better for my back. Both physically and emotionally, however, it was, and still is, quite challenging. Having to not only leave the one and only sport I had ever done and almost completely start over definitely came as an obstacle. However, this challenge continuously reminds me of how much I need to continuously work hard to become as good as I’d like to be.

What is your pregame ritual?

Before meets I always like to have a healthy, light breakfast. I have definitely found in my experiences that is it crucial to eat lightly before competing, as eating bigger, heavier foods will poorly impact my dives. Additionally, on the bus ride to away meets or in between warm ups and competing, I like do a few different things. First, I have a playlist which I use to motivate myself and get excited for the meet. Along with this, I watch previous videos of myself diving. Much of the sport requires a strong mentality. Being able to see myself dive allows me to prepare the dives in my head before getting on the board. Third, I go through dry land simulations of the dive. I am warming my body up to go through the exact same motions on the board as on the pool deck. During the meet, I try not to watch other divers. As mentioned before, the sport has such a significant mental component, and watching other divers gets in my head… My teammates always like to joke about it when I stand off to the side during meets with my back to the pool, eyes closed as I visualize my dives, but this ritual is crucial to performing at my best potential.

What motivates you to work hard?

I’m a very competitive person, as gymnastics certainly instilled that in me with a constant determination to aim for the best. I am very stoic, constantly finding things I could improve on in dives or [pushing] myself to learn new dives. Having meets as frequently as we do, I’m constantly training knowing that I will need to be at my best for the meet. I don’t like to lose, and knowing the potential for that drives me to work my hardest and compete at my best.

What does diving mean to you?

Diving is an emotional outlet for me, especially at Andover. The sport is quite social, as you talk with your teammates in the hot tub until it’s your turn. Because we have such a small team, we are all pretty close and comfortable with one another. I always look forward to practice not only for the sport, but also for the time to spend with friends who I know love and support me. Also, diving is close to my heart because I still get to flip and twist as I did in gymnastics, which has always been such a core part of me. Diving serves as not only so much as a replacement [for] gymnastics, but also poses its own unique and interesting qualities I get to continue learning on my journey as a diver.

What is it like being on the diving team at Andover?

Being on the diving team at Andover has been a fun adventure. Last year I was horrified to hear that the diving portion of the meet was done in complete silence! Many factors of the meets and practices are different than that of club diving… including the quietness, but I soon adjusted and found my like for diving. The home meets are extra fun for me; having a big crowd and diving at your home school acts as an extra motivator for me. So far, I have loved being able to dive for the Andover team and I look forward to the years ahead with a continuously great team and coach.

How do you feel about the team camaraderie?

We have a small and close-knit team. We practice five days a week and often compete together on Saturdays. I think the closeness with the teammates has made us such close friends. Our coach, Belinda, adds a fun and humorous aspect to our the group dynamic and brings us all together. Through spending so much time together, we have gotten to know each other quite well. I love being on the team at Andover because I know that everyone has my back and I can always go to someone for support. [It] means a lot to be on a team like that where the sport itself is individual, yet we don’t act as if it were at all.

Feb 2, 2018