By: Racquelle Burdick
“Whenever I need to clear my head I can go to diving and not have to worry about whatever it is i’m stressing about,” Junior Rayah Blood said. Blood has been diving for as long as she can remember and when she found out about a Hamilton diving camp in sixth grade, she knew she had to take advantage of it. “I absolutely loved it and have been diving ever since,” she said.
Every athlete knows that when you play a sport, you need to enjoy it. It needs to be something you are passionate about and love. Blood happens to be in love with the sport and can see herself doing it for a long long time.
Blood has had a very successful high school diving career. As junior she broke the 6 dive record of 234 at a meet against Wayland with 270 points. “It was shocking because I wasn’t expecting to beat it by so much,” Blood said. Later in the season Blood re-broke her record with a score of 278 points on October 9, 2018 at a meet against Holland Christian. She also broke the 11 dive record by 19 points at the Division 3 Invite on September 22, 2018 with a score of 423.
Blood plans on diving in college and as her junior year wraps up, that time is coming soon. “I want to dive in college but, I am still undecided on where I want to go.” Blood said. Rayah has been diving for 6 years and has collected many memorable moments over the years. “My most memorable season for diving was junior year because I broke both the 6 and 11 dive school records and placed 2nd at state.”
Not only does Blood play a big role on her diving team, she’s a great leader on her track team as well. “Rayah is our team leader not only in performances but also in work ethic and preparation.” says her track coach of three years, Travis Pertner. Rayah has been a team captain since her very first year of high school track. And a good one.
Many of the runners on the team look up to her and her coaches look for athletes like Rayah. “Leading by example is Rayah’s captain strength. She is the example of what I want track athletes to aspire to be in both the person she is and the athlete she has become.”
As Blood comes to her last year of high school, college is right around the corner. She has looked at many colleges including Oakland University, University of Toledo and Bowling Green State University. Blood says that Bowling Green is at the top of her list at the moment. “They have a great education program and I really liked their pool and dive coach and can see myself being a student athlete there.”
Going to college for diving means leaving track behind which can be a difficult thing when it’s been such a huge part of Blood’s sports career. “I will definitely miss track when I go to college. I will miss my teammates and how close everyone on the team is. I’ve made so many memories from track and will miss making more.”
After finishing her junior diving season, Blood started diving at Michigan Lakeshore Aquatics (MLA). A diving center in Holland Michigan. It’s her first time diving outside of school and has helped her for her senior year diving season.
“MLA is definitely going to improve my diving during season. It’s already helped my entries and I’ve learned more dives from it. It’s also getting me experience on a three meter diving board which will help a lot for college since you compete on both a one and three meter board.”
So does being a star athlete mean you don’t get nervous? Absolutely not, nervousness and anxiousness is something that comes with being and athlete. How an athlete copes with that is what matters.
Blood said, “I always write Philippians 4:13 on my wrist so I remember that God is with me and helping me. I also say a quick prayer right before I go.” Blood says she usually only gets nervous for the big eleven dive meets like conference, regionals, and state. B
When asked about Rayah Blood this is what her diving coach, Steve Vandewege had to say, “Rayah practices with the same determination, drive and passion as what she shows in every dive meet. She positively affects the dove team with her work ethic. She encourages her dive teammates to try new dives, work hard, have fun and enjoy the benefits.”
With only 36 days left of Blood’s junior year, she has set some goals for her senior year diving season. She hopes to reset her six and eleven dive record. She says she also wants to go undefeated in dual meets and be state champion which Blood almost did last season.
Outside of sports, Blood knows what she would like to do when she is out of college and done with diving. She says that Bowling Green College has a very good educational program and she can see herself being a student there. “I plan on learning to become a high school science teacher,” she said.