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News Office Blog - Stringers » bio
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massachusetts institute of technology

Guest Blogger: Doria Holbrook

MIT news

blog

Introductions


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Hey! I’m Doria Holbrook, a student athlete at MIT trying to qualify for the Olympic Trials in springboard diving. I started diving in high school as a break from my real talent, pole vaulting. I only dove on the one meter board and only for the 3 months of the year that I was in the high school season. When it came time to apply to college, I only applied to Division I powerhouse track & field schools where I could get a pole vaulting scholarship. I did send a couple tapes to diving schools, but they were promptly returned; one coach even told me that I would never be a collegiate diver. Well, none of that mattered when it came to MIT; I wasn’t even sure if they had athletics.

Unlike most MIT students, I had never heard of this place until I applied. My high school counselor thought that I might be a good fit. So, I threw an application in last minute and forgot about it, until that big envelope showed up on my door step, in little ole’ Yakima, Washington. While there are many great stories between that acceptance letter and how I actually got here, I will spare you the gory details.

So, now you may ask, how did I make the transition from being one of the top 15 high school pole vaulters in the country to smelling like chlorine all the time. Well, I like to think it’s because of Tom Cronan. Well, not exactly, but Tom is an important person in the journey to becoming the diver that I am today. You see, Tom is the head athletic trainer at MIT, with whom I became good friends, quite fast. While my passion, competitiveness, and drive make me a great athlete, my body has done its best to keep me from being successful. So, I just beat it into submission, which doesn’t really work all the time. Sometimes, my body actually wins, which is exactly what Tom Cronan had the pleasure of informing me.

After long jumping, triple jumping, hurdling, and pole vaulting for four years in high school, the bones in my left foot, my take-off foot, the be-all, end-all foot of my career, were now degenerating. They were wearing away. The whole ashes to ashes, dust to dust thing was happening to the bones in my foot, the only problem was I was 18, not 81. At this point I had a choice, I could keep vaulting and grind my bones away, hopefully making it to outdoor season of my senior year before fusing my foot, or I could quit. Well, I don’t exactly accept failure lightly and I refused to quit, so Tom made that decision for me. The degeneration of my foot was not going to happen on MIT’s watch.

Now, I am an athlete. I’m a competitive athlete and I always have been. Whether it was the 10 years of gymnastics that I started at 3, the 2 years of club volleyball (it didn’t really work out since I was only 5′2), or the 4 years of pole vaulting, I have always been competitive. I didn’t know how to function without athletics. Even though everyone had been telling me that I would never be a collegiate diver, I didn’t really have a choice, I had to do it anyways.

Some of you may be thinking, “Well, your foot is still messed up, how is this going to work?” Allow me to explain–handedness. I was a left handed gymnast and probable should have been a left handed pole vaulter, but they taught me right handed. The thing about flipping and twisting, as with diving, is that once you are left handed, you can’t switch. Thankfully, though, this was my saving grace. Starting collegiate diving gave me the opportunity to switch my “take-off foot, the be-all, end-all foot of my NEW career” to be the non-degenerating foot, the one that actually worked.

And now, we have the beginning of my true diving career–a career of dedication and hard work. I sat down with my new diving coach, Brad, the second week of practice to discuss my goals. I was two weeks in, learning how to dive on 3 meter, and already bruised more than I had ever been. To this day, there is no real logic behind the goals I discussed with Brad. There were the standard work hard in practice, no whining, etc. goals, but I looked Brad in the eye that day with my biggest goal in mind and said, “I am going to be a National Champion this year.”