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Diving into the details

Elizabeth Peberdy ’24

This past February, Alayna Okonoski ’24 signed to pursue Division One diving in college at Oakland University. Despite committing back in January, her relationship with this sport has changed numerous times since the beginning of her freshman year.

Okonoski said she never thought that she was going to do any sports in college. She did sports all year round to keep busy and stay in shape, but mostly just to have fun.

“Dive my freshman and sophomore year was just another thing,” Okonoski said. “I didn’t really fall in love with it until junior year.”

Okonoski has played many sports over the years, and by being a gymnast, diving came very naturally to her. However, joining Wolverine Diving, a club team in Ann Arbor changed her perspective of this sport.

“The culture of the club and people drew me in so much,” Okonoski said. “I knew this was definitely what I should be doing, and it makes me the happiest.”

Okonoski’s coach at Wolverine Diving, Claire Bauer, said she has taken note of her growing dedication to the sport over the years and has seen first hand how she has helped shape the team.

“(Okonoski) is a bright and talented personality to have on the team,” Bauer said. “We love having her.”

Bauer recalled that Okonoski was still unsure about diving in college when joining the Wolverine Dive team, but the coaching staff and team were there by her side supporting her.

“(Okonoski) has an amazing work ethic and applied herself in every practice,” Bauer said. “She just kept working hard to work her way up to the collegiate level.”

A lot of the class above Okonoski went on to dive at schools all over the country. She thinks fondly of these people, which helped spark an interest in following after them.

“(The older divers) were all so driven and always getting things done which was so motivating to watch,” Okonoski said. “I wanted to be like them.”

Okonoski was talking to other schools around the state like Grand Valley and Calvin, but she was drawn to being able to compete in Division One, the highest division of college sports. She noted that the Oakland team seemed to take training more seriously, and was drawn to this ethic.

“At Oakland, it seemed like everyone there was working hard and there for the same reason,” Okonoski said. “I didn’t really feel that as much at other schools.”

Okonoski took an official visit to Oakland, and this experience played a crucial part in her decision to dive there.

“I love the team and the culture and pool,” Okonoski said. “So I was like ‘you know what, let’s do this.’”

With everything seeming new when starting college, Okonoski is grateful that she will have a bunch of girls by her side to help adjust.

“I’m excited that I will already have a set group that I can almost rely on and know my team is there for me,” Okonoski said. “And that the sport I love makes me happy.”

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About the Contributor
Elizabeth Peberdy ’24
Elizabeth Peberdy ’24 is a full-time athlete and journalist, committing her days to rowing, running and page editing for the Tower. Building countless friendships through each activity, she enjoys being involved in her community. That's why this year on Tower, she is most excited about meeting all the new staffers and working with new people. Elizabeth is a second year page editor, a job she loves because she gets to “do my weekly designing of pages, but I’ve also had the ability to write stories and do social media at the same time.” She believes this job gives her “a really good balance of everything,” including participating in multiple tower activities, such as It’s annual holiday party. It’s clear that Elizabeth’s passion for journalism drives her to success inside and outside of the classroom, and she is a valuable member of the Tower community.

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    Barb PeberdyApr 6, 2024 at 7:22 pm

    Congrats Alayna! So excited for you!