The tides are changing as Vassar swimming and diving team has just hired a new diving coach. Jack Ferriter, hailing from Western Massachusetts, was previously the diving coach at Smith College, a fellow Seven Sisters School in Northampton, MA. Ferriter has been coaching at a collegiate level for four years. Prior to coaching, he dove competitively in high school and for two years at Keene State College. Along with his experience, Ferriter brings with him much enthusiasm, optimism and a few dance moves.
Ferriter was attracted to Vassar’s beautiful campus, as well as the excitement the swim and dive team has for progression. Moreover, Ferriter is ultimately keen to help the divers, who in the past, had to dive and practice with no coach.
The diving roster stands strong with nine divers. Among the returning divers are Maya Pruitt, the only senior and also the captain of the team, and sophomore Nora Kyrkjebo. The team does, however feature seven rookies. One of the rookies had been recruited prior to Ferriter’s arrival. Ferriter says they got the other six, five male divers and one female diver, by a few swimmers. Kyrkjebo was also a huge help as she put up flyers all over the athletic center.
The addition of a full time dive coach should be helpful for the Brewers going forward. Last year, the dive team consisted of three people. Since scores at meets combine results from both the swim and dive teams, adding both numbers and a coach should benefit both teams and lead to improvement within the league. The women went 3-5 and the men went 4-5 last season, as they both finished sixth in the liberty league.
Pruitt is excited to be working with Ferriter. She noted, “The diving team has faced a lot of instability when it comes to coaching, so I’m really looking forward to the consistency that Jack will bring. I know that he’s going to be here and dedicated to us all season.” Similarly, Kyrkjebo added, “I’m so excited about having a new coach and a new start for the program. I think Jack has a lot of experience and knowledge he can bring to the team.”
With all of these changes and the loss of more experienced, graduated divers, the team is a bit younger and has much less experience than in the past. Pruitt explained, “six of [our divers] have never dove before this season! We just finished our first week of training, but already Jack’s got us on an awesome regimen. We’re pushed to dive off both boards, step out of our comfort zones, and work on getting those washboard abs.”
Pruitt elaborated further on the structure of meets. She explained, “Dive competitions consist of six dives both on one meter and three meter for dual meets, and 11 dives each board for league meets and bigger competitions. This means we have to learn a lot of new things very quickly.” Still, Pruitt remains positive. Coach Ferriter shared this positivity and enthusiasm, stating, “[I’m] excited to watch the divers progress and succeed in accomplishing goals they have set for themselves.” Kyrkjebo also commented on his organization and inspiration. She stated, “[Jack] is very organized and laid out a clear plan. He got us to write out our goals for the season, which made me take the time to really think about what I want to achieve this season.” One such individual goal for sophomore rookie diver Connor Martin involves self improvement. He explained, “[I hope] to have learned some cool dives that I can be proud of. And there’s the team aspect, too. I’m here to have a good time doing something new with some really great people.”
Among those who have never dove before, junior Clancy Green and Martin have said Coach Ferriter has really made the transition to diving relatively easy. Green explained, “There’s a lot to work on before the season opener, but Jack’s been super patient and supportive as we crash and burn. He really takes the fear out of diving.” Martin echoed the sentiment, stating, “Jack is an incredibly encouraging coach. If I’m working on a new or particularly scary dive, he’s very understanding, but he also pushes me to try the dive without delaying.” Martin has a background in gymnastics and Green has a background in skiing, so the acrobatics of diving are not completely foreign to them. Pruitt added, “Jack is doing a really great job working with everyone’s varying experience. His coaching style is encouraging and he’ll make sure to change his explanations if someone doesn’t understand something.”
Ferriter added some additional training regimens he hopes to implement later on in the season as well. He explained, “[I plan] on incorporating more trampoline work, which will help tremendously in the execution of the dives.” Pruitt agrees that trampoline work really helps with diving as she explained, “[In the] off-season, I try to dive as much as possible to keep up my skills, rhythm and timing. I also use the trampoline a lot. It’s a great tool to practice moves on before putting them over water. Running, lifting, and general dry land are also important parts of my off-season training.” Kyrkjebo agreed, “Ferriter has been very on-the-ball with getting us ready–making sure we stretch and go to lifting sessions. Also, he’s had us run through our dives, which helps us get comfortable on the boards again.”
Ferriter has a very positive attitude towards coaching. “I will also bring in more high fives because there’s always a reason to give them out,” he quipped. He continued, “I hope to have a diving program that is recognized for high quality diving and even higher quality divers in terms of personality and work ethic. Maybe win an award for my dancing too, that would be nice.”