Back in Action
By Jen Diefenderfer
When Penn State diver Mike Alderman was nearing the end of his high school career, he wasn't sure what his athletic future held. It wasn't due to a lack of confidence on his part. Rather, prospective college coaches were nervous about past injuries and saw him as a liability.
Penn State diving coach Craig Brown knew better, and offered Alderman a spot on the team. Since then, Alderman has held up his end of the bargain and his positive and optimistic attitude has led him to success both inside and outside of the swimming arena. "Mike has overcome and worked through so much adversity in the last four years," Brown says. "I couldn't be happier with his performance at the Big Tens this year."
Alderman's performance at the Big Ten's was nothing short of brilliant. He placed first in the 1-meter diving final and is a leading contender entering into this week's US Open Diving Championships.
"My greatest accomplishment this season was winning the 1-meter diving final at this year's Big Tens," Alderman says. "It ended up being a giant emotional high for me, my coach and my team.
Alderman's success this year is long overdue. After speaking with his coach, Alderman made the decision to sit out the 2004-05 season to train and develop his skills. As the year progressed, a serious back injury put Alderman on the path of recovery instead of training. Despite the setback health-wise, redshirting allowed Alderman the opportunity to enhance his diving skills.
Coach Brown has become both a friend and mentor to Alderman throughout his collegiate career. "The back injury curtailed some things but we got things done for him to be better prepared for the Big Ten Championships," Brown says.
Alderman's drive and determination have allowed him the chance to compete at the U.S. Open Diving Championships. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for most collegiate divers, Alderman has been able to maintain his composure.
"I've had issues with anxiety throughout my career and by having a meet that I can just have fun with and not feel too much pressure gives me the opportunity to teach myself to be a better competitor next year," Alderman says.
Given the hurdles Alderman has had to overcome, his success at this year's Big Ten Championships is all the more gratifying when you consider his remarkable achievements inside the classroom. "I consider my consistent achievement as a student to be my greatest academic achievement," Alderman said. An accomplished collegiate athlete and student, Alderman represents what it means to be a part of the Penn State tradition. A finance major with minors in both political science and economics, Alderman holds a 3.54 cumulative GPA. He has been named to Dean's list several times as well as garnering both Academic All-American and Academic All-Big Ten accolades. In the pool, Alderman garnered the only conference honors for the Lion men after being named to a First Team All-Big Ten honoree for his performance in the 1-meter diving final. "Being the only person to get conference honors didn't seem to be that big of a deal to me," Alderman says. "I felt that the rest of the team deserved it just as much as I did since they worked just as hard."
Alderman plans to train at Penn State over the summer for the first time in four years. The previous three summers he spent both working and training, but holding internships during the summer hasn't allowed him to focus strictly on training. Alderman hopes to add some additional dives to his 3-meter list, specifically the front 4 1/2 tuck and reverse 3 1/2 tuck. Academically, training at Penn State over the summer will allow him to finish his finance degree as well.
"Mike is a fabulous student," Brown says, "and his Big Ten win in the 1-meter diving final proved he is the real deal."