Captain Feature, Girls Swimming, Sports, Winter Sports

Captain Ora Cullen ’19 “Uses Inside Jokes and Humor” to Inspire Teammates

A.Bhat/The Phillipian

Despite having no prior experience with competitive diving, Captain Ora Cullen ’19 joined the team as a new Lower from Paris, France. Cullen has since proved to be an integral part of the diving team and was voted Captain for zey Senior year. According to Cullen, although ze had never done diving before, zey extensive experience in gymnastics allowed zey to easily transition to into diving. “A lot of my spatial awareness and kinetic sense of where I was in the air, especially rotating and flipping, is something that I worked a lot on in gymnastics and that was very helpful in diving,” said Cullen. Cullen’s favorite part about the Andover Diving is the team’s camaraderie and the close friendships ze has made as a member of the team. Cullen said, “From diving, I have learned how to be on a team. I had never really been part of a team sport. [Although] gymnastics was a team sport…there was a lot of backstabbing, so it’s the first time I have wanted to do things for other people, not just for me, because everybody’s so close.” According to Head Coach Belinda Wolf, Cullen is a dedicated athlete and leader and is consistently enthusiastic for the team’s daily practice. Wolf said, “One of the best things about Ora, is since the day I met [Ora], ze is one of the most motivated athletes I’ve ever had. Ze is the person who shows up early and will leave late. I’ve actually had to ask [Ora] throughout the years, ‘Can you just relax, you don’t have to show up that early.’ Ora’s definitely a leader, and I think that’s why they chose [zey] to be Captain.” According to Claire Davis ’20 and Wolf, Cullen’s energetic and cheery presence contributes to the positive team dynamic. Davis said, “Ze’s always very upbeat and energetic, thinking of fun new things for us to do. Ze’s always a happy person and always bringing the team’s spirits up other instead bringing them down.” Wolf said, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen Ora in a bad mood. It doesn’t matter if [ze’s] learning a new dive, it doesn’t matter if [ze’s] learning a difficult dive, or even if [ze’s] not diving well, Ora always has a smile on [zey] face.” As a Captain, Cullen aspires to demonstrate the same leadership and inclusivity that previous diving captains exhibited. Cullen said, “My Lower Year, [Matt Grottkau ’17] was Captain, and he had the perfect balance of discipline and fun. He did a good job being very exigent and a good coach who gave really good advice, but at the same time cultivating the family atmosphere. Our Captain last year [Emelie Elderacher ’18] as well was super nurturing, loving, and kind, so I look up to them a lot.” Cullen uses zey leadership role to give teammates advice and encourage them both before and after dives, according to Zack Peng ’21 and Eliza Dow ’22. In an email to The Phillipian, Peng wrote, “Ora uses inside jokes and humor to make us fearless and dive well. Ze is great at making each and every one of us feel more confident and hyped up to dive. Ze always encourages us to step out of our comfort zone and succeed in the sport.” Dow said, “Ze will critique you as well as give you compliments and say what you are doing well during meets, especially after you dive or ze will give you advice before you dive, and I definitely feel supported by [Cullen] all the time.” According to Dow, Cullen is a determined and skilled diver who the team looks up to. Dow said, “Ora is a very strong diver. Ze started diving [Lower] year and had never dived before, and now ze is very good, and does very well in all [zey] events. Ze does very well in twisters and has very good front half-somersaults. I think that [is] because of [zey] ambition and talent everyone on the team really looks up to [zey].” One goal Cullen has for the rest of the season is to change the rules for agender athletes in diving like zeyself. Cullen said, “I’m trying to change the rules about agender people on sports teams. Something I hope for the season is that the rules get changed and are made more inclusive, so that I can feel more accepted diving.”

Feb 1, 2019