At the start of 2013, Marysville Getchell’s Brooke Wherley had never set foot on a diving board for a competitive event. By year’s end, she had placed second at the Class 3A state diving championships.
Wherley, now a senior, proved to be such a natural in her first year of diving that she set the Chargers’ school record in her first meet, broke that record multiple times throughout the season and won the district championship.
?I didn’t think it was going to be as good of a season as it was,? Wherley said. ?It still surprised me it was as good as it was all the way up to state.?
Wherley had been a gymnast for six years before taking up diving. The similarities between the two sports played a major factor in her instant success.
?The biggest adjustment I had was landing on my head,? Wherley said. ?That’s not OK in gymnastics. Twisting and flipping, just the basic mechanics of it, transferred over perfectly.?
At the urging of a friend, Wherley started diving in March of 2013 at the Forest Park pool in Everett. She immediately liked the sport and began training at the Federal Way Aquatic Center over the summer before her first year of school competition began in the fall.
Right away, Jaci LeGore Hodgins, who coaches the two Marysville high school swim teams, and Dick Caldwell, who coaches the Marysville Pilchuck and Marysville Getchell divers, knew Wherley was no ordinary athlete.
?She got on the board that (first) day and Caldwell and I both looked at each other and just went, ?This is very special,’? LeGore Hodgins said.
Wherley’s score of 232.85 in her first competition set the school-record for a six-dive meet. She improved that score to 249.75 by year’s end. At the district meet, her score of 406.75 set the school record for an 11-dive meet.
Wherley credits much of her success to Caldwell’s coaching.
?He’s amazing,? she said. ?He helps us a lot and he’s really good at what he does.?
Diving success for the Chargers and Tomahawks isn’t limited to Wherley. Caldwell said Marysville has qualified a diver for the state meet in each of the past 17 seasons.
?It’s good athletes,? Caldwell said of the reason for all the success. ?They make it easy on me. They’re very coachable. I’ve been lucky enough to get quite a few gymnasts. They’ve already got the background, all I have to do is change them from vaulting and trying to go out to diving and going in. Most of them have worked hard and made it happen.?
Caldwell seems reluctant to take his share of the credit, but like Wherley, LeGore Hodgins isn’t shy about heaping on praise.
?I truly think it’s Dick,? LeGore Hodgins said. ?His step process is so safe and they have so much trust in him that he’s able to really bring out a lot.?
Southridge’s Danielle Freund, last year’s Class 3A state champion, graduated this past June, making Wherley the favorite to win the championship as a senior. If she finishes atop the podium this year, she could be Marysville Getchell’s first state champion ? in any sport.
?I think that would be really cool, and a huge honor,? Wherley said. ?I’m really hoping that it happens, because that’s one of my main goals.?
The big stage doesn’t intimidate Wherley. She said the most relaxed she was going into a meet last season was at state.
?State was the only meet I wasn’t completely nervous for,? Wherley said. ?I didn’t expect anything because I didn’t want to get my hopes up and then have it not work out. I obviously wanted to win, but I ended up being second. My goal was top three going into state and I accomplished that, so I was really happy with it.?
LeGore Hodgins said Wherley’s ability to relax is one of her greatest assets.
?I think that just tells you so much about her,? LeGore Hodgins said. ?The great ones can clear the mechanism. And as we know, there aren’t many great ones. That’s why she’s so special.?
Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on Twitter at @aaronlommers and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.