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20 Aug 2013

"Yes, She is a Diver!" AAU Member Defies Obstacles

"Yes, She is a Diver!" AAU Member Defies Obstacles

This story was submitted by Amy Warrix, mother of Erika Warrix who is an AAU Diving member. Erika just competed in the AAU Diving National Championships in San Antonio Texas and overcomes all obstacles and challenges.

My daughter, Erika, faces several challenges which makes her life a little bit harder.  She’s dyslexic- learning disability affecting the processing of language and numbers.  She’s tiny- she’s ten years old and just cracked 42 pounds.  And to round out the list, she deals with a health issue.  

Dyslexia makes a lot of her daily life more difficult- it robs her of free time since it takes her brain a bit longer to process language.  She puts in many hours and works really hard just to get by in school.  She’s constantly reminded of her difficulty with academics and she gets bombarded with comments about her small stature all the time.  Throw in the medical upkeep and it all really wears on a kid.  And it wears on me watching her struggle and not being able to take it all away.

After spending most of her day in an environment where just about everything is difficult for her, she needed an environment where she could escape and have fun.  And for my daughter those both happen when she is diving.

Her small stature, love of water, and lack of fear around heights have been a great match with the sport of diving.  I love that diving pushes her brain to process steps, approaches, jumps, twists, and somersaults in just a few seconds of time.  Surprisingly, she does all of that well despite the difficulty she has with processing things.  Once it's solid in her brain, she can do it.  It may take some extra time and attempts to solidify it, but she gets there.  And the fact she knows she can get there, keeps her trying.  She leaves behind the mental shutdown she tends to bring to academic items because simply put, she loves to dive.  

Diving boosts her confidence level and is helping her cope with her hurdles in life.  Her AAU Diving coaches at AAAD (her club) are amazing.  They recognize her need for visual references and tactile strategies and are patient with the extra time and explanation she needs.  They are a perfect balance of motivating her into new skills and letting her set the pace.  

Diving with AAU gives Erika time with kids both older and younger than her. My daughter loves helping new divers and is inspired by the experienced divers.  She loves meeting and connecting with people and it really energizes her to know her teammates are on her side.  The real beauty is none of them care about her academic status, and no one thinks twice about her small stature.  

What started as an attempt to give her some bragging rights (“I can do a cool dive!”) and a little exercise has turned into the very thing keeping her from cracking most days.  When she’s frustrated she has to attend one more tutoring session or see one more doctor, she takes it to the diving well and makes something fierce out of it.

One day, we hurried from diving practice to the lab for the latest round of blood tests.  I knew Erika was nervous as she fidgeted in her seat and kept one eye glued on the door waiting for the tech to enter.  She looked up at me with tears in her bright blue eyes and in a quiet voice said, “I nailed my front dive on three meter today.”

 When the tech came in, he said, “Hey there. It looks like you just got out of the pool?”And Erika replied, “yup. I’m a diver!” and gave me her signature wink.

The tech looked back at me for some clarity and I replied with a big smile and a grateful heart,

 “Yes, she is a diver!”

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