Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Fresh off NCAA Championship appearance, UMass diver Emma Roush looks ahead

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(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/ Daily Collegian)

At a time when University of Massachusetts athletics is often perceived as struggling, it can be easy to overlook the successes in its midst. One case in point is Emma Roush, an honorable mention All-American who recently finished 15th at the NCAA diving championships.

After winning the Atlantic 10 championship in the one-meter and three-meter dive, Roush advanced to the NCAA championships, where she finished 17th in the qualifying meet to earn a spot in the consolation finals, with a score 275.15 on the one-meter board. She improved her score to 277.00 in the final to finish 15th overall. Her performance was good enough to earn honorable mention All-American honors, only the second UMass diver to do so.

Now in her junior year, Roush has shown consistent improvement, reaching the qualifying meet a year ago before advancing this year to the B Finals of the championship, otherwise known as the consolation finals. Looking ahead to her final year of competitive diving, her goal is to move on to the A Finals and be named an All-American outright.

“I spent the past summer here at UMass training with Mandy [Hixon, the women’s diving coach], and we worked on a lot of basic things that really helped with my diving and made me more consistent,” Roush said.

She also credited the competition with her teammates, particularly given the skill of the freshman divers who joined the team this year.

“We all push each other every day at practice. Everything we’ve all accomplished, we couldn’t do it without each other,” she said.

Roush spent a number of years in dance and gymnastics before an injury forced her to retire from those sports. Urged on by a friend, she went to a diving practice and found that her skills as a gymnast prepared her well for this new endeavor. She was diving competitively in high school when a teacher with connections to UMass recommended her to Hixon, who then personally recruited her for the diving team with the Minutewomen.

From an academic standpoint, Roush is a kinesiology major, which has proved useful in training as well. Some of her biomechanics courses have specifically addressed the mechanics of diving, and her knowledge helps identify muscle groups to focus on while lifting or working out.

In practice, Roush concentrates on sharpening basic techniques. One area she emphasizes is board work, which helps her jump higher by better timing her jump with the movement of the board. Another is throwing, which again stresses timing to maximize her speed as she spins in the air. Focusing on the basics and fine-tuning her timing has had dramatic results, as “little things like that can make such a difference.”

Another training routine that helps Roush has nothing to do with diving technique; she listens to Broadway music as she trains. The music serves as a psychological boost to help her relax and focus on her performance.

“My mom and dad love Broadway musicals, and they’ve taken me any chance they’ve gotten, and so when I listen to it, it makes me really happy and calm, so that’s just something to help me relax and be happy when I’m competing,” Roush said.

Her latest honor is her highest yet; although she was a two-time All-American in high school, “being an honorable mention All-American at a collegiate level is definitely bigger.”

Nevertheless, senior year provides another opportunity to surpass her previous bests. As for her goals, there was an easy answer.

“Next year I’d really like to make A Finals and then actually get named an All-American, so that’s the next step that I could take and I really want to get there.”

Thomas Haines can be reached at [email protected]

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