Very few sports have been safe from the repercussions of the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic and NCAA diving was no different.
Fort Frances native Molly Carlson’s collegiate career with the Florida State University women’s diving team came to an abrupt end after the NCAA announced last week that President Mark Emmert and the Board of Governors had decided to cancel the Division I men’s and women’s 2020 basketball tournaments (March Madness), along with all remaining winter and spring NCAA championships.
The decision was based on the evolving COVID-19 public health threat, the NCAA’s ability to ensure the events do not contribute to spread of the pandemic, and the impracticality of hosting such events at any time during this academic year given ongoing decisions by other entities.
It was some bittersweet news for Carlson as she was slated to dive a full list at the NCAA Championships for the third time in her career, after she took fifth place on platform with a score of 512.10 at the Zone B Championships in Athens, Georgia last Wednesday.
“Today brought upon some very disheartening news to all NCAA athletes,” Carlson said in a post on her Instagram page.
“As I will not have a senior year at NCAA’s, I am officially retired from the (regular) sport of diving as our season came to a close abruptly. With this being said, tears of joy flooded my eyes as I looked back on my 12-year career in this amazing sport.
“Not only did I grow as person, but I met so many individuals along the way who changed my life forever,” she continued in the post.
“To Team Canada, thank you for allowing me to express my passion on a worldwide stage. Nothing beats the feeling of happy tears hearing your anthem play representing the best country.”
In prelims for platform last Wednesday at the Zone B Championships for the Seminoles, Carlson only missed one of her five dives, scoring 265.25 for fourth place.
However, she was a little off in the first three of her rounds in finals, but she got back on track by scoring 52.20 points on her back 2 ½ somersault pike -the only dive she missed in prelims by scoring 37.70 points.
Then on her fifth and final dive, the Toronto resident saved her best for last, capitalizing on her reverse 2 ½ somersault tuck, scoring 71.40 points and moving up to finish in fifth place.
“Another solid performance by Molly today,” FSU head diving coach John Proctor had said last Wednesday.
“She wasn’t going to be denied the opportunity to compete in her favourite event at her last collegiate meet. I’m so proud of what she’s done this post-season and as a Seminole and I’m just glad she gets to go for it one more time on the biggest stage.”
“To the Florida State swimming and diving team, than you for being there for me through my physical [and] mental health journey,” Carlson said in her post on Instagram.
“You’ve provided me with a home away from home where I could grow into such a happy and healthy individual. I am honoured to have represented the Seminoles for four years, and make history alongside amazing people. To my coach John Proctor, you have become a father to me and will always hold a special place in my heart.
With her regular diving career now in the books, Carlson also noted on Instagram that she would be taking up cliff diving.
“And for anyone wondering. . . I AIN’T DONE,” her post read.
“Catch me on 20 metres in the future travelling the world because I’m starting CLIFF DIVING. I love you all, thank you for everything. It’s been a hell of a ride! As always, #gonoles.”