Sept. 23, 2011
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IOWA CITY, Iowa – Staff of the UI Department of Intercollegiate Athletics were told a story of perseverance and, perhaps, “Father Knows Best” during their monthly “All Staff” meeting at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in mid-September.
As is the custom, one of Iowa’s more than 650 talented student-athletes spoke to the group of more than 200 about what it meant to her to be a student-athlete at the University of Iowa. This month’s guest speaker, however, wasn’t a “normal” student-athlete. No, in addition to being a “hometown girl” – this Hawkeye grew up in the very heart of Hawkeye Country, Iowa City – Veronica Rydze, a senior on Marc Long’s UI women’s swimming and diving team, was also the youngest child of Bob Rydze, Iowa’s long-time and much-heralded diving coach.
“I always knew I wanted to come to Iowa and compete for the Iowa Hawkeyes. I grew up a Hawkeye. I loved the fans, had a new facility to train and compete in, and, of course, I would have broken my dad’s heart had a I gone anywhere else,” Rydze said with a smile to the group assembled inside the Feller Club Room inside the Dale and Marilyn Howard Family Pavilion at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
And compete she has. Rydze enters her senior season as an all-American after having claimed a 13th place finish in the one-meter diving competition at last year’s NCAA Championships. Her 2010-11 season also included a 13th place finish in one-meter and a 7th place finish in three-meter diving at the Big Ten Conference Championship. She also paired with teammate Deidre Freeman to win the three-meter synchronized diving event at the Big Ten meet.
“I always knew I wanted to come to Iowa and compete for the Iowa Hawkeyes. I grew up a Hawkeye. I loved the fans , had a new facility to train and compete in, and, of course, I would have broken my dad’s heart had a I gone anywhere else.”
Rydze and Freeman have qualified for the 2012 Olympic Trials. Their summers included competition in Florida in May and in Los Angeles in August, tasks made a little easier for Rydze – a Dean’s List student at the UI — because she’s already earned her bachelor’s degree in biology from the UI and will be working toward a minor in Spanish during the 2011-12 school year.
“One of the many things I learned as a student-athlete at the UI was the ability to find the balance between athletics, academics and a social life,” said Rydze, whose father was honored with the Glenn McCormick Award at the United States Aquatic Sports awards banquet . The award is presented to an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the sport of diving.
Bob Rydze is in his 37th year as Iowa’s diving coach. He currently serves as USA Diving’s Chairman of the Board and was the team leader for the U.S. Olympic Team at the 2008 Olympic Games. He has also served on USA Diving’s Committee for Competitive Excellence and on the NCAA Diving Rules Committee.
“Veronia had to not only overcome the coaching she received at the UI, she had to also overcome her parenting,” UI Director of Athletics Gary Barta joked during his introduction.
Actually, Rydze did have a real obstacle to overcome as a student-athlete at the UI: She red-shirted her freshman year after being sidelined by an injury.
“My takeaways from my years at the UI are the travelling that I’ve been able to do, the opportunity to meet new people, and the building of new relationships,” she said.
“I also learned the importance of support through the support I received from my teammates, the training staff and my coaches.”
Rydze and her teammates are making final preparations for the 2011-12 season. The men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams will stage the annual Black and Gold Intrasquad on Oct. 8 at the UI’s Campus Wellness and Recreation Center. The first competition of the season for the women’s squad is scheduled for Oct. 20 at Wisconsin. For a look at the UI’s complete schedule, click HERE.