It was time.
In 1983, two years after I graduated from SMU and achieved more success than I ever imagined, I stepped away from my athletic career as a diver.
It’s not that I didn’t have more to give, as I qualified for the 1984 Olympic Trials.
But at the same point in time, I had already accomplished everything I wanted to and more.
I was blessed to have a wonderful career at SMU. Between the All-American honors, competing for championships, diving at the 1980 Olympic Trials, I didn’t believe I had anything else to prove.
I was living out my dream, and I loved every second of it.
But it was time to move on.
I transitioned into coaching a club team, Mustangs in the Sun, for the next 30+ years to keep me around the sport, but truthfully, I never gave my diving career too much thought once I retired.
When I received word that I was being inducted into the 2023 SMU Hall of Fame, that’s when all of those memories and moments in my career came flooding back.
No athletes begin their journeys thinking they’ll be Hall of Famers.
We compete because, first and foremost, we love our sport.
And that love and passion has taken me to places I only dreamed about as a little girl growing up in Oklahoma.
It’s comical looking back on this now, but when I was in high school in the 1970s, I wanted to compete at the state championships. The problem was, there were no girls state championships at the time.
My, how times have changed.
Since there wasn’t a girls state competition, I competed with the boys during my sophomore and junior seasons and ended up winning both years.
It was at this point that I began to see that I had potential in this sport, and it could help enrich my life with some incredible opportunities.
One of those opportunities, of course, was to earn a high-quality education.
My brother swam for two years at SMU, so when they reached out, that piqued my interest.
I should also add that they had lots of cute boys that were divers on their team. Let me tell you, that didn’t hurt their chances in the recruiting process.
My mom wanted me to go to Michigan to dive for the legendary Dick Kimball, but it didn’t feel right. SMU was close to home, and more importantly, SMU felt like home.
The first big and independent decision I made, which was a polarizing one at the time, was when I chose to dive at SMU.
Looking back on it, I’m amazed at 18 that I had the conviction to make such an impactful decision like that on my own, but I’m so glad I did because SMU would be nothing short of a blessing to my life and career.
Something I learned early on, before my career even started at SMU, was to never underestimate the influence you can have on someone’s life.
I went to SMU the summer before my freshman year to train, and I ran into Christine Loock, who was a legendary diver and ended up being a Hall of Famer in her own right.
She told me how excited she was that I was here and that she firmly believed I could win a national championship.
That blew me away.
Someone of her stature did not have to go out of her way to tell me that, but to have that affirmation from someone I looked up to meant everything in the world to me.
As I went on to win the 3-meter in the U.S. Diving Championships and earn seven All-American honors during my career at SMU, I always circle back to that moment with Christine.
Would these accomplishments exist without her instilling that confidence in me right away as a bright-eyed 18-year-old?
It’s difficult to say for certain, but I do know that I’ve always tried to be someone that can be a positive influence and uplift other people as Christine did for me.
Christine may not even remember that interaction she had with me all those years ago, but she left an indelible impression on me that I was able to take with me throughout the entirety of my life and career.
I knew I had accomplished quite a bit as a college diver. I was an All-American and national champion, but I never thought I quite reached that pinnacle like some of my friends and peers that have been inducted into the Hall of Fame.
And I was totally at peace with that.
As I mentioned before, when I left the sport in ’83, I had zero regrets.
When I got the call that SMU planned to induct me into their 2023 Hall of Fame, I was left speechless because I never thought of myself in that capacity.
Since my days in high school when I was beating the boys at state, I’ve always known I had a gift for diving. But I never could’ve predicted having my name and story going down in history in the Hall of Fame.
I’ve always looked up to these incredibly talented athletes that get inducted each year, so knowing I’m a part of this year’s class, I realize they’re looking up to me. More than anything, that’s what makes me so emotional about this induction.
I’m in disbelief, really, and it feels like a dream.
I also think that’s fitting, though, because my career at SMU was a dream.
That college experience made such a tremendous difference in my life, and it taught me to pay it forward by making a difference in other people’s lives.
This is something I strive to do on a daily basis.
The honors, awards, and accolades are unbelievably humbling, but if I can go to bed each night knowing I’ve made a difference, that’s everything I could ever ask for and more.
The inductees will be recognized at the annual Hall of Fame Banquet and Induction Ceremony on Friday, September 15 in Armstrong Fieldhouse on the SMU Campus. For additional information or for tickets to the SMU Athletics Hall of Fame Banquet, click here.