Valley goes head-first into creation of diving team

PV student sparks formation of new team

Standing on a diving board and staring way down at the water isn’t easy for the fearful, so it really shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone when sophomore Veronica Fyfe took it upon herself to fill a gap in the Pascack Valley athletic program: the lack of a diving team.

As the PV swim team was preparing to begin its season last year, Fyfe left any doubts she might have had at the door when she went into an interest meeting. She walked in knowing that there could be a place for her on the team, and by the time she walked out, there was one.

“I knew [a diving team at PV] was possible,” Fyfe said. “If you have a swimming team, you can have a diving team.”

Her passion and drive set off a chain reaction, and before Fyfe knew it, PV had a new team.

Swim Coach Courtney Rems took up the issue of a diving team with Athletic Director Shawn Buchanan, and the two of them set off on the journey to make this dream a reality. At first, this included tasks as simple as finding meets in NJ for Fyfe to compete in, but it then evolved into getting her registered and ready to go.

“The team has never had a diver before so it was definitely a challenge for myself and Mr. Buchanan,” Rems said.

Although the idea of diving may be new to PV, it was nothing new to Fyfe, who has a wealth of diving experience in many different situations. This comes mostly from her club team, Marlins Diving Club. Located in Connecticut, it can be a hike for Fyfe and her family to get to the pool as often as they do, but to her, every second has been worth it.

“It’s kind of far, but I started there six years ago, and ever since it has been a great experience,” Fyfe said.

However, this is not where her diving background resumé ends, or really even begins. The most impressive part of Fyfe’s diving career comes at the international level, competing for Ecuador over the last three years.

“Since my mom is from Ecuador, I can compete for their diving team,” she said.

For this to even be possible, Fyfe needed to get dual citizenship for both the United States and Ecuador. Although the actual competitions are similar to what she would normally do, there is something different about being a part of a diving team that includes divers from an entire country.

“It feels really cool to represent a country,” Fyfe said. “It’s been a really great experience.”

The most glaring issue here is that she isn’t actually from Ecuador. Because of this, almost every competition will require a flight, but it is also easy to imagine her having difficulties fitting in with the team. However, this is not the case at all.

“The other divers have been really good about [helping me fit in],” Fyfe said of her South American teammates.

The issue with communication can be tough, however, “[my teammates] speak a little bit of English and I speak some Spanish,” according to Fyfe.

In the end, everyone’s hard work culminated in a successful first season for the dive team at PV and at the state championship she placed 7th last year. After this performance from Fyfe, Rems was quick to pile on the praise.

“It is really incredible that she [was] only a freshman and she [was] already number seven in New Jersey at the state tournament last year,” Rems said.

Although the results at the state championship were great, Fyfe felt the biggest moment of the season was when she stepped up to the diving board at the state championship meet to the cheers of Rems and the team’s swimmers.

“At the state championships, some of the swimmers were there and they came to watch the diving competition,” Fyfe said. “I just feel like the swimmers and the whole PV community was very welcoming and they really made me feel like part of the team.”

Fyfe made it clear that although it is great for her to be able to compete on the team, she didn’t only create the team for herself.

Caitlyn Degise
Caitlyn Degise joined Fyfe as the second member of PV’s dive team. (Ava Kim)

“As much as it is exciting for me, I hope in the future this will create an opportunity for other [divers at PV],” Fyfe said.

This belief is shared by Rems, who also has high hopes for the future of the diving team at PV.

“I hope Veronica paves the way for other divers,” Rems said.

This goal came to fruition, much to the surprise and satisfaction of everyone involved, only one year later, as Caitlyn Degise became the second diver on the team. Degise has had no trouble finding her place, moving the team along on its natural evolution from solo spectacular to dynamic duo.

“[Veronica] helped me make my dive list, she helped me practice, she gave me tips and she helped me figure out my place at meets,” Degise said.

All in all, the diving team had a successful second season, competing in three meets. This was not without its difficulties though, as the team had to deal with Rems spending two weeks in quarantine, right in the heart of the season.

These meets were one to three hour drives away from home, since there are very few diving teams located near Hillsdale and River Vale. Joining the team was a big commitment, but both divers were happy to take on the task.

“It’s been a great experience and it’s always fun, so I’m just hoping to do it again next year,” Fyfe said.