DON KETCHUM is a native of Phoenix. He was a sportswriter for The Arizona Republic/The Phoenix Gazette for nearly four decades. He covered high school sports on several occasions as well as the Arizona Diamondbacks, Arizona Cardinals and Arizona State sports. From 2008-14, he was a staff writer for, the web site of the Arizona Interscholastic Association.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Power of positive thinking drives diver Largay

You can do it if you put your mind to it.

It is a mantra that has served Xavier Prep junior diver Alyssa Largay very well.

It has helped her calm her fears to become one of the state’s top performers off the board and put her in a position to finish at or very near the top of the Division I list at this year’s state meet.

The Gators also have three more top divers in Talle Donley, Madeline Sewell and Molly Cahill.

Xavier-Brophy diving coach Frank Pipitone also has been coaching Largay since the seventh grade with the Phoenix Dive Club.

“Most of the girls are good divers, but what makes them better is how they manage their concerns,’’ said during a practice break at the Brophy Aquatic Complex.

“Those kinds of fears can be paralyzing, and sports are not always forgiving. Alyssa has been able to rationalize what she has to do and keep working at it. Her results are much better and she has added a few dives that are more difficult.’’

She was able to turn things around in the recent Xavier-Brophy Invitational and it helped raise her to a new level.

“After the first few dives, I was eighth, ninth, 10th, 11th, something like that,’’ she recalled. “But I was able to come back and win it. That did a lot for my confidence.

“If I happen to be scared of a dive, I go and talk to Coach Frank and discuss it. He says that I will be safe and will have a good dive. I’m getting better at not having to do that as often.’’

Largay’s maturation process has reached the point to where she is considered to be a team leader.

“When things are going well, she can be infectious (motivational),’’ Pipitone said. “The younger girls need to see that because they have a tendency to be overwhelmed at times.’’

Largay said it doesn’t seem that long ago when she was a freshman herself and trying to get used to academic and athletic life at Xavier. She had an older sister, Kristen, a star volleyball player, to help her along.

“It can be a lot to handle,’’ Largay said. “They had (diving) tryouts my first day of school. That, plus the academics . . . now I’ve gotten used to the Xavier workload.’’

Diving takes up most of Largay’s free time – she continues to train with her club team as well as competes for Xavier.

She understands the commitment and that she might miss a few personal things. But diving is personal, too.

“Some of my best friends, I met through diving and it’s been great,’’ she said.

Largay is looking forward to more improvement as a senior next year and beyond when the path takes her to college.

It appears that her choice will be the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. She said she has visited there and participated in camps and “fell in love with the area.’’

Another reason for such a good fit would be the fact that Kristen Largay plays volleyball for and attends American University in nearby Washington, D.C., so Alyssa would have family support.

Largay was due to compete in a three-way exhibition match with Phoenix Desert Vista and Mesa Mountain View on Thursday (Oct. 19) at Brophy. On Friday (Oct. 20), Xavier was scheduled to be part of the Puma Invitational at Gilbert Perry.

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