Senior diver commits to University of Hawaii to play D1 sport

March 28, 2019 — by Megan Chen and Jayne Zhou

“If you want a spot on this team, you’ll get it,” the University of Hawaii diving coach told senior Annika Donez during her visit to the Division 1 diving school in mid-October 2018.

Her decision to accept the offer culminated years of effort.

Donez began diving in the beginning of eighth grade following the end of a gymnastics career that began years earlier. Feeling like it was time for a change, she followed the rest of the girls on her gymnastics team that were also shifting their efforts to diving, she said.

“Diving was really similar to gymnastics in terms of flexibility and air awareness,” Donez said. “I liked staying with the people I had done gymnastics with for years.”

Since she had been diving for four years, “stopping her diving career at the end of high school seemed very abrupt,” which factored into her decision to continue the sport through college.

Donez described the process she went through to decide on a school as thorough. Her local coach contacted other schools’ coaches, and she received offers from schools such as University of Nevada Las Vegas, UC Davis and University of Denver.

However, when visiting University of Hawaii, the school’s diving coach immediately offered Donez a spot on the team, and Donez accepted the offer as her home for the next four years.

“There were a lot of things I had to consider. My mom even made a pros and cons sheet,” Donez said.

Donez felt that University of Hawaii fulfilled all her requirements. At the school, Donez will be able to dive Division 1 with a strong team and train under two coaches. Donez also visited the school and said that the location was one of the deciding factors in her choosing of the school. In addition, she received a merit scholarship from the school.

Once Donez accepted the coach’s offer, her official application to the school began a couple months ago, when she sent coaches a document that tagged her as an athlete, so the admissions office can take the needed steps to accept her.

Donez still faces the normal application deadlines and procedures, but she said she doesn’t face the stress that other students might feel thanks to her guaranteed spot on the team.

“If I’m going to be competing at a D1 school, I want to be as relaxed as I can, and Hawaii is a really good school for that,” Donez said.