By Allison Hamila
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Diver Manning overcame injury to make waves
In her final season with the Arizona women's diving team, senior Tiffany Manning has gone through a lot more than just the motions to get to this point.
She redshirted last season after transferring from Florida State but couldn't compete because of a shoulder injury she sustained in April 2004.
She has been rehabilitating ever since, trying to get back into her peak form so she could dive again.
Manning said she has taken it all in stride, and that the injury has helped her become a better competitor.
Manning dislocated her shoulder when she hit the water after diving off the 10-meter platform in the finals of a tournament in 2004.
And yes, she said, water does hurt, especially when jumping off the equivalent of a three-story building.
"It's like hitting a brick wall," she said.
It took her until the Trojan Diving Invitational in Los Angeles over the weekend to get back up on the tower.
She took first place in the 10m event. Needless to say, she is ready for this season and to re-conquer the very platform that set her back an entire year.
Manning said she decided to transfer from Florida State for many reasons, namely that after suffering her injury she thought she wasn't ready to begin diving quite as soon as her coaches in Tallahassee wanted her to.
"They put pressure on me," she said. "They wanted me to dive and I wasn't ready."
The California native said she had originally looked at coming to Tucson to be a Wildcat but decided to go to Florida State because she felt Arizona was just too close to home. But after Florida State closed its outdoor pool and she injured her shoulder, Manning said, she decided to transfer.
"I have always loved (Arizona head diving coach) Michele (Mitchell-Rocha), and I just felt like Arizona was a good fit for me," Manning said.
She said that coming back from her injury and the subsequent surgery was all about patience. She said being patient was the hardest part of her rehabilitation because the progress was so slow.
"It was all little steps," she said. "Doing things like lifting your arm."
The waiting taught her a lot. The injury never broke her spirit, and she said she is not apprehensive at all to dive off the platform now.
As for her season, overall she is feeling confident.
"I just make damn sure I squeeze when I hit the water," she said.
As for her choice to transfer to Arizona, she said she has few regrets.
"The program here is so amazing, everyone is so dedicated," she said. "It seems like everyone is driven by the sport and nothing else. Nobody goes through the motions. It's thoughtful."
Mitchell-Rocha said she's hoping for a good last season from Manning.
"She has a ton of experience and a competitive toughness that is innate," Mitchell-Rocha said.
Mitchell-Rocha added that despite Manning's inability to compete last season, she is fitting into the team very well.
"I think she will be remembered for a good attitude and being a tough competitor," Mitchell-Rocha said.
Manning said she feels like a leader with the Wildcats, with whom she's the only senior.
"With my experience, people can come to me and talk to me," she said. "I help to lift the team up. I joke, laugh and get pumped up at meets."
For Manning, this season is all about a comeback.
"I want to get back to where I was before my shoulder injury," she said. "I felt I was diving my best then. I want to get back there and go beyond."
She said she admires anyone who has had an injury and pulled through it only to perform again.
This is something she knows all too well. If things continue to look up for Manning, any mysterious sounds coming from the pool at Hillenbrand Aquatic Center this season just may be her going out with a bang.