Poland Seminary High School senior Tricia Vallinger, daughter of Gloria and Frank Vallinger, signed her letter of intent to become part of the Youngstown State University swim and dive team this fall. Tricia is in her fourth year of diving and has proven she has what it takes to compete on a collegiate level.
Tricia, who made it to state all four years at PSHS, said she actually doesn’t have a long career in diving. She started diving for the first time as a freshman.
“That first dive was different,” she said.
At age three, Tricia started her athletic road as part of a competitive gymnastics team from Kathi’s Dance and Gym. She rose through level 8 competition, but when she reached her freshman year it was time for a change.
“Gymnastics was getting harder to compete in, so I switched to diving,” she said. “I found the gymnastics helped me a lot though.”
She said diving required good athletic form that she had learned in gymnastics. There was little doubt that it helped as Tricia went on to prove herself and make it to the state competition each year at Poland High School. This recent season, she placed fifth, which was her personal best.
While she was diving at the high school for the past three years, her sister and PSHS class of 2007 graduate, Mary, had made the dive team at Mount Union College. She made the national round of competition this year, a feat that Tricia hopes to accomplish at YSU.
Over Tricia’s four-year diving career, she would dive for PSHS then in the off season, trained with a club team called the Timberbrooke Dive Team. The team’s coach and trainer is Nick Gavolas, who is also the YSU dive coach.
“He trained her and will now be her coach,” said Gloria.
Attending her signing was Poland swim coach Kelli Hunter. Although she didn’t directly coach the divers, she was aware of how talented Tricia is.
“She is a very good diver,” Hunter said. “She is a lot of fun to watch.”
At YSU, Tricia will be pursuing a degree in exercise science with the intent to go into physical therapy.
Photo by J.T. Whitehouse, Town Crier
Poland Seminary High School swim coach Kelli Hunter joined Poland senior Tricia Vallinger and her mother Gloria Vallinger last week as Tricia signed her letter of intent to join the Youngstown State University dive team.