Senior Emma Camp wanted to be an Olympic gymnast. When injuries forced her out of gymnastics, she turned to diving. Great decision!
When Camp was 10 years old, she had dreams of competing in the Olympics as a gymnast and she was well on her way. During her middle school career and freshman year in high school, she pushed herself five days a week, 4.5 hours a day and reached Level 9.
In the back of her mind, she also had a Plan B, to compete at the Division I college level. However, like many athletes with big dreams, she was forced to rethink her path during the summer after 9th grade. She had just finished a 6-month recovery from shoulder surgery, one of many injuries during her career, and was back in the gym.
“Within days of returning to the gym, my back and body ached all the time. I remember sitting down with my parents at the kitchen table and talking about what life would be like for me in 10, 20, even 40 years if I continued gymnastics,” Camp said. “If I ached and hurt this much now as a 15-year-old, what would it be like when I was a 50-year-old woman. So the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make was made that day – to stop gymnastics.”
But the things she loved about gymnastics, her passion for competing, for being on a team, for pushing herself mentally and physically, were still important to her and were deeply ingrained in her character. It was a comment made during her shoulder rehabilitation that caught her attention and showed her the possibility of a new path. Her physical therapist mentioned that she had competed as a diver at Georgia Tech and persuaded Camp to give it a try.
So the summer before sophomore year, Camp spent two weeks learning how to dive.
“I had never really been on a diving board. If I had, it was just to jump off into the water,” she said. “I had no clue how to dive, but I really started to love it and felt that it would be a good fit for me with my gymnastics background.”
Camp’s injury turned out to be a fresh start not only for her athletically but also for Walker Diving. The Wolverines program had waned but was resurrected when Camp expressed interest.
Success was immediate. During her sophomore year, her first year of competitive diving, she finished third in the State at the 1A Championships (12th in 1-3A) before claiming the State title during her junior year (8th 1-3A). As she competes in just her third year of diving, her senior season, she has already amassed several successes, most recently winning the Campbell Challenge, qualifying for the 2020 State Championships, and breaking The Walker School diving record with a 248.5 total in the meet.
“No matter how Emma does in practice or competition she is constantly evaluating each performance to find ways to improve,” said Walker Head Swimming and Diving Coach Bill Schreiner. “Emma strives for perfection in all her endeavors.”
Camp has signed a National Letter of Intent to dive for Division I Lehigh University next season.
“I have come to love diving because it is both a team and an individual sport,” Camp said. “Even though you are competing against athletes from other schools, there is always a sense of camaraderie.”
Camp said she is grateful for her Walker coaches and teachers: “Walker has always been supportive of me academically and athletically, particularly when I’ve missed school not only for gymnastics and traveling across the country but also with my injuries and the numerous doctor and surgeon appointments that I’ve had to endure,” she said.
“Not a lot of schools would be that vested in an individual, especially when trying to achieve an athletic dream.”