Lewis Cass senior Kelsey Thieke proved to be a fast learner in diving this winter.
In her first year in the sport, Thieke advanced past the Warsaw Sectional into the South Bend Riley Regional.
“Kelsey is a naturally talented athlete,” Cass swim coach Melanie Karmel said. “She worked hard with her talented coach Lynnsey (Segraves) Bell to accomplish things most first-year divers don’t even come close to being able to achieve. I am very glad that she came out for the team this year.”
Thieke placed third at the sectional with 288.7 points and 17th at the regional with 204.9 points.
Thieke said her season exceeded expectations.
“I honestly thought I was going to do horrible,” she said. “I did it because my friends’ parents told me I would be good at it since I had done tumbling and cheered on a competitive squad. I thought, ‘I’m not doing track so I might as well do diving.’ It turned out a lot better than I expected. I loved it. I wished I would have done it my whole high school career.”
Thieke also placed fifth at the Mid-Indiana Conference meet and was a consistent scorer for the Queenfish in all of the dual meets.
"What she accomplished was unbelievable," Bell said. "To be a successful diver you have to be determined, focused, and fearless — and Kelsey defined all three of those. She brought a fun energy to practice that made her easy to coach and well liked by her teammates. Being the only senior diver, she filled the role of being a leader and role model for the other divers. I wish I would’ve been able to coach Kelsey all four years of her high school career, but in my short time with her it was exciting to watch her maturity and confidence transform herself into a fantastic diver.
"She will be missed next year, but no doubt this bright, talented young lady will thrive in all her future endeavors."
Thieke played volleyball for four years for the Kings. Standing in at 5-foot-4, she was an undersized left-side hitter for the Kings her senior season.
“Kelsey epitomizes what a student-athlete should be because of her academic success,” Cass volleyball coach Gretchen Crum said. “It’ll be fun to hear about her achievements as a college student.”
Thieke was also a cheerleader for the Kings. She said she’s thinking about trying out for the Ball State cheerleading team next month.
The following is a question-and-answer session with Thieke.
Q. Of the sports you play, which is your favorite? Why?
A. Diving! Even though I only did it for one year, it was a blast! It was just fun doing flips off a diving board every day after school and pushing myself to get better each week.
Q. How did you first get started in sports? At what age?
A. In elementary school my parents [Lisa and Jeff] made me try everything.
Q. Do you have any family members who played sports?
A. Yes. My brother [Joseph] and sister [Brook Nicoson] and my dad.
Q. Have you ever played a sport that you were not successful at?
A. Softball and basketball. I was absolutely terrible!
Q. How do you feel you’ve improved as an athlete since you first started playing?
A. I have become more competitive. Before I did not mind losing. But now I actually cannot stand it. I am not a sore loser, I just prefer to win!
Q. Who do you consider your biggest role model? Why?
A. My brother. He is always right (never loses an argument!) He is also very smart and has been extremely successful.
Q. What experiences have you had in sports have made you the athlete you are today?
A. I would credit my success in diving to my tumbling skills I learned many years ago. In elementary school the coaches at Kokomo Flipsters taught me how to do the flips, and ever since I have utilized them into making me the athlete I am today.
Q. What is something that not everyone knows about you?
A. I have a sister.
Q. What is your favorite memory of playing sports at your school?
A. Cheer camp last summer. Our entire squad was walking on a sidewalk and of course I got off course and fell in a hole and spilled chocolate milk all over myself.
Q. What’s your favorite music, movie, TV show, etc.?
A. Music: Rihanna. Movie: I Am Legend. TV show: SpongeBob SquarePants. Book: The Great Gatsby.
Q. Who is the best athlete in your respective sport you’ve ever gone up against?
A. In diving, Kayleigh Gray from Maconaquah.
Q. What are your goals for your future? Do you plan on attending college?
A. I plan on going to college to earn my bachelor’s degree then study something in healthcare.
Each week during the school year the Pharos-Tribune recognizes an athlete from one of five area high schools. The recipients are selected by each school’s athletic department.