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Carroll Diver Heading to Duke, Looks Toward 2020 Olympics

Apr 20, 2016 06:38AM ● Published by Kevin

Carroll Diver Nate Hernandez winning district for the third year in a row. Photo courtesy of Carroll Diving Coach Carolyn Hryorchuk.

Gallery: Nate Hernandez - Dragon Pride, Spring 2016 [10 Images] Click any image to expand.

Nate Hernandez. Photo courtesy of Carroll Diving Coach Carolyn Hryorchuk.

Senior Carroll diver Nate Hernandez, winner of back-to-back state titles in his sport, recently competed to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Trials in diving, according to diving head coach Carolyn Hryorchuk. Although he did not qualify, Hernandez's future is bright as he hopes to qualify for the Olympics in Tokyo in 2020. The Southlake all star has competed on a four-time state championship team, helping the Dragons earn a school-record six state team titles in a row.

Hernandez graudates in the top 7.52 percent of his classmates (46th out of 625 students), academically. He will dive at Duke University, starting in the fall 2016.

"Nate is such a blessing to coach," Hryorchuk said. "Each day at practice he gives his all, which sets a precedent for the whole team. Nate's positive attitude, with a huge great smile, makes for the ideal athlete to coach. His talent and willingness to learn new dives has been able to land him the National High School All-American Title for 2015. He is a class act on and off the diving board."

The two have known each other since Hernandez was in kindergarten; however, Hernandez didn't start his diving career until 2008, just after the Beijing Olympics.

"My mom and I thought it would be fun to try since I already had a gymnastics background," he said. "I was in gymnastics for four years prior. I ended up improving much faster at diving than gymnastics, and I loved my team, so I ended up quitting gymnastics after my first year to start diving six days a week."

Fast forward two years later, and Hernandez was already participating in his first national competition in Minneapolis.

"
I think that was my first moment when I thought how cool and exciting the sport was; how I first thought I could be doing this sport for a really long time," he said, but not without some hesitation in the back of his mind.

"In middle school, I did have some tough moments and thought about quitting, but I think everyone does at that age. It's a natural part of growing up, but I'm so glad that I stuck with it. I love my sport and can't begin to imagine how my life would have been different had I not continued to dive."

Nate Hernandez. Photo courtesy of Carroll Diving Coach Carolyn Hryorchuk.

The list of accomplishments is impressive (see below), but among his favorites are winning state as a junior in 2015, and his very first "10" at the 2011 Winter National competition in Lubbock.

In February 2015, he competed at the Texas UIL 6A High School Championship in Austin, and came in rather unconfident, he said, just before having what he described as the "meet of my life." 

"I told myself, 'just do your best,' because I did not think that I was going to win," he explained. "I had the meet of my life and went on the win the competition, earning the state champion title. I was so incredibly thrilled. There's a video that our team videographer took and there's this moment where I am standing next to Coach Hryorchuk staring at the scoreboard, and when it showed my scores and dive total, showing that I was in first place after the competition was over, and the biggest smile is plastered on my face, and I'm surprised I didn't start crying, because I was just overwhelmed with emotion."

He decided to use footage from that competition to submit to NISCA All-American, and was named the 2014-2015 High School Diving National Champion of the season that year.

Aside from diving, Hernandez also values community service, logging more than 120 hours with organizations like National Charity League, Inc., Southlake Chapter; the City of Southlake Chamber of Commerce; and Rockenbaugh and Walnut Grove elementary schools.

"It's all about giving back," he said. "One thing that Southlake adopted long ago was Rachel's Challenge, and it was instilled in me as a young Dragon to start a chain reaction and be the change you wish to see in the world. The Southlake community has taught me how and why to be concerned about the wellbeing of others, and that's something I would love to teach the youth of today."

Hernandez is grateful for the opportunities the city and community has presented to him.

Nate Hernandez. Photo courtesy of Carroll Diving Coach Carolyn Hryorchuk.

"I actually think that I saw something on Facebook recently showing that Southlake had been named one of the top 50 'charitable' cities," he said. "I think that's a fair statement. Everyone in Southlake is very much concerned with the welfare of the entire community, and that's something I want to take with me to my new community."

His next stop is Duke Unviersity, which he said he instantly knew would be his choice of colleges if they'd have him, after he saw the campus and bonded with the swimming and diving teams.

"That was something that was very important to me in the process, because you train with these athletes multiple hours a day, and they become your support system and your family," he said.

He looks to major in chemistry with a concentration in pharmacology. His career aspirations are to work in the drug industry in research and development. He was happy with the quality of Duke's academic program in those concentrations, and could truly see himself a Blue Devil.

"...a piece of advice I was taught during the recruiting process was that you have to think, 'If I was injured and could never dive again, would I be happy here?' I know that is case with Duke University," he said.

Hernandez attributed much of his success to his family and looks ahead for many more accomplishments to come.

"I would like to thank my incredible family, for sacrificing so much to let me do the sport that I love," he said. "The opportunities that they have granted me are priceless, and with them I have been able to travel all across the country making enough memories to last me a lifetime."

Extra Credit

We asked Hernandez some extra questions about his time in Southlake. Here's where he stood...

The regional meet that Carroll Diver Nate Hernandez won three years in a row. Photo courtesy of Carroll Diving Coach Carolyn Hryorchuk.

Southlake Style: Favorite memory competing for Carroll (either in or out of the pool).

Nate Hernandez: My favorite memory competing for Carroll would be, like I said, winning State. But the neat thing is that the Carroll Swimming/Diving team was winning state as a team before I ever competed for them. I have been able to contribute to three state championship team titles, and the team is hopeful we will win some more. Being a part of the Carroll swim/dive legacy has been my favorite memory. It will be amazing to see in a year how well the program will continue to perform.

As a senior, I hope that I have encouraged and inspired the underclassmen to step up and perform as I was encouraged to do as an underclassmen when Bryce Klein, current SMU diver, graduated from the program in 2013. That's why our program is so successful, in my opinion, because we always have groups of athletes that are setting the bar higher as they leave for the ones that are coming up. Hopefully, the program will only continue to improve.

SS: What are you looking forward to most in collegiate competition?

Hernandez: One of the things I am most looking forward to in collegiate competition is riding the momentum that the team this season (2015-2016) has created. For the first time in program history, both the Men's and Women's Swimming and Diving teams were nationally ranked. When I get to campus in August, it's going to be so fun working with the team to improve ourselves and make our mark in Blue Devil history. I know we are looking to place higher at NCAAs, and have another undefeated dual meet season.

SS: What will you miss most about Southlake?

Hernandez: Southlake is a unique community. While a lot of families move here, there are not many who leave. I am a "kindergrad," or a student that has attended the district since kindergarten. Likewise, I have grown up with countless of other students like me and met their families. The Southlake community and culture is what I will miss most about Southlake. It's almost impossible to walk through town square without seeing someone that you know, and usually you'll end up having a chat with so-and-so's mom or your fourth grade teacher, or that one kid from your freshman biology class, and it really makes Southlake feel connected. It's really neat to be able to wear my Carroll swimming/diving shirt into a store and have a parent whom I have not met come up to me and congratulate me for winning state.

It can be a very competitive environment, but that competition pushes everyone to a new level of excellence, and that's something that everyone in Southlake can connect with. The families that live here have deep roots in the community and care that each student is doing there best in whichever activity they're involved in. 

SS: Go back in time and talk to your freshman self. What advice would you give to him?

Hernandez: I would tell myself to be more confident in your sport, academics, and identity. The world is not always against you; More often than not it is you against yourself. Having the right mental attitude will be so much more important than anything you've ever worried about before. Being confident, but not cocky, will be the solution to any doubt you hold.

Hernandez's List of Accomplishments

Education

Carroll Senior High School Class of 2016

  • Distinguished Achievement Program and Success Scholar
  • 100+ Hours of community service
  • National Hispanic Recognition Program (NHRP Scholar)
  • Mu Alpha Theta (Math Honor Society) (2015-2016)
  • National Honor Society (2014-2016)
  • 4.0 GPA (100.411 Weighted Average)
  • Class Rank: 46 out of 625 (Top 7.52%)
  • ACT Composite: 33        Sat Total: 1990

High School Diving (2012-2016)

2016

  • 2016 NISCA Academic All-American
  • 2016 NISCA All-American Diver
  • 2016 Texas UIL 6A State Champion (Male Diver of the Meet; First Dragon Diver to win State back-to-back)
  • 2016 Regional Champion (Male Diver of the Meet)
  • 2016 District Champion (Male Diver of the Meet)
  • New Carroll Dragon 6 Dive Pool/Team Record (361.10 Points)
  • 2015-2016 Men’s Swimming/Diving Team Captain

2015

  • 2015 TISCA Champion
  • 2015 NISCA All-American Diver
  • 2014-2015 NISCA National Champion
  • 2015 Texas UIL 6A State Champion (2nd Highest State Meet Score of All Time [613.75]; Behind #1 Bryce Klein, Southlake Carroll Alumni)
  • 2015 Regional Champion
  • 2015 District Champion
  • 2014-2015 Men’s Swimming and Diving Captain

2014

  • 2014 TISCA Champion
  • 2014 NISCA All-American Diver
  • 2014 Texas UIL 5A State Bronze Medalist
  • 2014 Regional Champion
  • 2014 District Champion

2013

  • 2013 TISCA Champion
  • 2013 NISCA All American Diver
  • 2013 Regional Bronze Medalist
  • 2013 District Silver Medalist

Club Diving Highlights (2008-2016)

2016

  • Potential Olympic Trial Qualifier (Know on Friday April 8, 2016)

2015

  • 2015 USA Diving Junior National Finalist (Platform)
  • 2015 USA Diving Senior National Qualifier
  • 2015 USA Diving Synchronized Nationals Finalist

2013

  • 2013 USA Diving Junior National Silver Medalist (1m and 3m)
  • 2013 USA Diving Senior National Qualifier (First Time to Qualify)

2011

  • 2011 Hilton HHonors Junior West National Champion (3m)

2010

  • 2010 USA Diving Junior National Finalist (First Time to qualify)

Future Plans

  • Duke University (2016-2020)Swimming and Diving Team
  • Olympic Trials 2016
  • Tokyo Olympics 2020
City+School community service swimming and diving high school sports volunteerism college commitments 2016 Duke University Olympic Trials Nate Hernandez
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