Aaron Smith didn’t plan to come to Western. He didn’t plan to continue diving, a sport he loves but considers only a hobby.
One phone call from Western’s recruiting staff, however, changed all that.
Western offered Smith, a freshman from Jeffersonville, Ind., a partial scholarship in exchange for a year of diving.
“It was an opportunity I shouldn’t pass up,” Smith said. “I wanted to see how well I could do.”
Smith’s family felt the same way.
His parents liked the idea that Western was closer – and due to the scholarship, cheaper -?than Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., which is where Smith had originally planned to enroll.
“They really pushed it,” Smith said.
Smith is now settled into his Barnes-Campbell Hall room and is preparing to cope with the stresses student athletes often face.
“We have to have nine o’clock classes and we can’t have night classes,” Smith said.
He’s taking 15 hours, all of which revolve around a practice schedule that begins at 7 a.m.
Practices at Western involve more weight training and aerobic conditioning than Smith had in high school.
College athletics also bring more competition and dives with higher degrees of difficulty.
“It’s all about trying to beat yourself,” Smith said.
Smith also has a built-in group of friends. He lives on the same floor as other freshmen swim team members and spends his weekends at the swim house.
“We’re more or less a family,” Smith said. “It’s a ready-made group of people to hang out with. We try to get along with everybody.”
Smith plans to go to medical school after graduating from Western. He’s considering opthamology but hasn’t yet settled on a particular field.
Though Smith has been diving since the seventh grade, he has no designs on making the sport a career.
He plans to participate only as long as he can balance his academic aspirations and the hectic schedule of a student-athlete.
“I like the competition aspect of everything,” Smith said. “We’ll see how it goes.”
Reach Adriane Hardin at [email protected]