THORNTON — Averly Hobbs walks around the pool with her iPod plugged in listening to fast, upbeat music. It pumps her up.
She forgets about everything and everybody around her to prepare for her next dive, and she’ll do jumping jacks to break her nerves. Oh, and yeah, she’ll be chewing on her ever-present gum.
“I always chew gum when I dive. It’s a little habit I have. It’s weird if I don’t chew it,” the Chatfield Senior High sophomore said. “I think it helps me calm down a lot if I pop bubbles and stuff.”
But diving wasn’t Hobbs’ first sport. That was gymnastics. Yet, six years ago, Hobbs fell out of love with gymnastics and found diving. She’s been in love with it ever since.
“It was a little scary, but I just thought it was so much fun just flipping around and just being able to be in the water. I like it a lot,” Hobbs said.
And, yet, with every dive, be it a good one or a bad one, Hobbs tries to forget it. It’s over with. It’s in the past, the 15-year-old said. The focus always has to be on the next dive. That sometimes either said than done, like it was Dec. 15 in the 1-meter diving finals at the Veterans Memorial Aquatic Center.
Hobbs placed sixth in a talented pool of divers, finishing with 408.5 points. She finished nearly 60 points back of Loveland’s Michal Bower, who rallied in the final round to win the Colorado Coaches Association Invitational with a 468.35 point total. Bower edged St. Mary’s Academy’s Alexa Beckwith by 3.45 points.
Hobbs’ first dive in the finals wasn’t up to snuff where she would’ve preferred, but that does little, if anything, to take away from her success as whole. After all, she finished fourth at the 2012 5A state championships last February.
“Last year, I was just having fun with it, trying it out to see how I would like it in high school,” Hobbs said. “Finishing fourth was just awesome. Now I’m really in it to get to the top. Top three is my goal this year. Just to get third would be better than fourth.”
Her success at such a young age isn’t a surprise, at least not to her diving coach Sean Gillespie.
“She’s a hard worker. There’s a lot of good diving talent here today and she’s part of that. She’s one of them. The whole state knows who she is. At her young age, I like the way she handles pressure. She works so dang hard it doesn’t surprise me.”
Even if sometimes she’s a little overzealous, Gillespie said.
“She’s a little excited. We tried to calm her down a little bit. She did not have a very good first dive. We told her to get rid of it, let it go and come back,” Gillespie said. “Again another testament to her to be able to forget that and move on.”
Again, though, that shouldn’t be a surprise, Gillespie said. He knows Hobbs to be a hard worker.
“If she’s not working out with us she’s working out with her club team, probably a few hours per day,” Gillespie said. “She really works hard. It’s a testament to her ability to do her homework and all the other stuff, too.”
Hobbs is hopeful one day that her hard work will pay off by diving collegiately, possibly at her schools of choice Missouri, San Diego State or West Virginia. But there’s still plenty of time for that. For now it’s about making the most of her high school career. So far, she’s doing a pretty good job of that.