Shouldering The Load

Junior survives shoulder surgery, is intent on making impact in 2007-08

Sept. 19, 2007

By Erin Tulley
Purdue sports information student assistant

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Emily Wetzel looks back with fondness regarding her first memories as a ‎Boilermaker. She was a freshman underdog on a team stocked with veteran talent and led ‎by a enthusiastic first-year head coach, who has since developed her into one of Purdue's ‎most skilled platform artists.‎

‎"I remember it being so cool to be able to work with Adam (Soldati) and be part ‎of this team, which has shot through the roof," said Wetzel, who is starting her junior ‎season. "He instills so much confidence in his athletes; it has been exciting watching this ‎team grow." ‎

Wetzel is part of a Purdue diving renaissance, which began with the addition of ‎All-American Carrie McCambridge in 2002 and the completion of the Boilermaker ‎Aquatic Center a year prior.

Since McCambridge's arrival, the Purdue diving program ‎has become one of great distinction, as it's collected numerous All-America and ‎honorable mention All-America citations, plus Big Ten titles and honors such as diver of ‎the year and diver of the championships.‎

Wetzel added to the program's prestige last season as she qualified for her first ‎NCAA Championship on the last day of Region C Zones, placing third off the tower with ‎‎512.50 points. ‎

Wetzel's still watching her team grow, but she's doing it from the sidelines as she ‎recovers from March shoulder surgery. Wetzel hopes to be training on all dives within ‎the next six weeks. ‎

‎"Despite how much I love watching my team improve and train, it's been really ‎hard to be around the pool without being able to get in the water," said Wetzel, who had ‎been experiencing off-and-on shoulder problems since February of 2005. ‎
 

 

At first, Wetzel attempted to rehab the shoulder through physical therapy, but it ‎eventually gave out after she tore her labrum shortly following this year's Big Ten ‎competition. Wetzel went on to dive at Zones and NCAA's in spite of the injury.‎

The surgery, while it has delayed Wetzel's training at times this offseason, should ‎provide a boost to the remaining years of her collegiate career. ‎

"My shoulder put limitations on my diving in previous years, so it's nice to have ‎the security knowing that it's fixed, and with time I will be able to try all the things I've ‎wanted to," said Wetzel. ‎

With a goal to peak at the this season's Big Ten Championships, Wetzel has been ‎training in the weight room and will soon be preparing her dive sets in order to get them ‎competition ready. She is currently working off the 1-meter springboard, and will ‎continue to move up as her shoulder allows. ‎

Wetzel is excited to see what she can do off the springboards, but her passion ‎remains on the tower, where she always perform her best. The season's biggest reward ‎from all the hard work in rehab will come when she's able to execute her favorite dive - ‎an inward 3 and ½ off the 10-meter platform. ‎

Wetzel attributes her positive attitude toward the apprehension of tower diving to ‎coach Soldati, saying, "He makes the sport so fun you forget about the fear." ‎

‎When it comes time to get in the right mindset for a big dive, Wetzel counts to ‎three before launching herself off the platform. ‎

‎"It's taken me two years to figure out a routine before a meet and I've realized ‎that I need to just step back and stay calm or else I'll get too hyped up and become shaky ‎on the board," said Wetzel, who also utilizes music as part of her pre-dive customs. ‎

Wetzel's current favorite track is Kanye West's, `Never Let Me Down'. ‎

‎"There's a line in the song that goes, `determination, dedication, motivation,' and ‎that always inspires me to focus on my performance and remember the hard work and ‎practice that was put in for it." ‎

Wetzel's hard work through practices, weight training and rehab should put her in ‎a position to pick up where she left off this past spring. However, the toughest part for ‎her will be staying patient through the recovery process. ‎

Two years removed from her first memories as a freshman, Wetzel has reassumed ‎an underdog role as she watches the Boilermakers take flight from the tower while she ‎waits her turn. ‎

But with the enthusiasm and positive energy of her teammates always pushing her ‎forward, Wetzel will soon return to the water at full strength and start creating a new ‎series of memories to reflect upon with other divers of the Purdue renaissance.

Emily Wetzel

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