Aug. 20, 2010
STANFORD, Calif. - During an ultimately unsuccessful run to the 2008 Olympics, former Stanford diving star Cassidy Krug maintained a blog with the poetically appropriate title of "Falling with Style."
Since before she can remember, Krug has done so indeed. She won three NCAA titles while at Stanford and, a week ago, captured national championships in the three-meter individual and three-meter synchronized events in College Station, Texas, to complete a comeback from ... well ... retirement.
Cassidy Krug thought she could say goodbye, but a lifetime of tugging from the direction of the pool made her realize the decision was premature.
Still, her brief time away from diving did change her perspective on a sport that has its origins deep in her gene pool. Though it wouldn't be fair to say it "rekindled" a passion for the sport, perhaps it did place greater value on every minute of training, and a greater appreciation for simply being able to do it day after day.
Now, the run to London 2012 is officially a Krug farewell tour - not only farewell to competition, but farewell to the quest for perfection. For Krug, it's the journey all right. But it's a journey with an end goal: to be the best.
Cassidy is the daughter of Julian Krug, the head diving coach at University of Pittsburgh, where he has been for 32 years, and Dorothy Krug, her high school diving coach. Both coached her throughout her youth at the Pitt Aquatic Club and, legend has it, took her to her first diving meet at one-week old.
"I believe that if you train hard with a positive attitude, winning will take care of itself," said Julian Krug, in his Pitt coaching bio.
Cassidy continues to follow that creed, though it took a year away from the sport to fully understand it.
"After graduation, I devoted myself 100 percent to making the 2008 Olympic team," said Cassidy, a 2007 graduate in English. "Not making it was hard, and after the Trials, I was burned out."
Krug returned to Stanford from The Woodlands, Texas, where she had been training, and took a job with the Stanford Alumni Association.
However, "retirement" came with a Brett Favre tone. In the back of her mind, Krug realized that she would be working only a couple of hundred yards from the Avery Aquatic Center and her Stanford coach, Dr. Rick Schavone. Sure enough, six months later, "I realized there was something major missing in my life."
The origin of Krug's frustration came from the obvious source - that diving was part of her soul and couldn't be so easily discarded - and from one not so obvious - that she had yet to reach her potential.
"I felt I was still getting better," she said. "And I wanted to see what would happen if I came back. It was very much `now or never.'"
Krug talked to Schavone about smoothing out the difficulties that made diving difficult and doing a better job of appreciating what she loved.
The result: "It's a lot easier than I thought it would be, and more fun than I expected. I've seen real life. Now, I really know that I'm doing it because I want to."
Krug calls going to the pool each day "a gift." But her good feelings are secondary to a supreme drive to win, to perfect old dives, learn new ones, grow in confidence, be more consistent, and "just get better."
"I do love the sport," Krug said. "And I do have the right attitude. But I know why I'm doing this - to go to the Olympics and medal."
"Falling with Style" gave Krug more than an opportunity to reveal the creativity behind her daily journals and poetry that remain unpublished and for only her eyes to read. It offered a glimpse into the ground covered on the daily journey.
Principle No. 1: Focus on perfection
"Good enough isn't good enough," Krug said. "Anytime I want to relax and get lazy, and maintain where I am, I miss an opportunity to get better."
Principle No. 2: Leave all my fears behind
"I really want to focus on the competition, not on what can go wrong."
Principle No. 3: Own every moment
"This relates to why I came back to diving. I want to appreciate every moment I do this."
Principle No. 4: Stay sane
"When all you do every day is practice and sit at home and worry about practice, remember that you're just diving. You've got to work to keep that perspective."
Principle No. 5: Keep my toes pointed
"One of the basic principles of diving."
Another principle: Cassidy Krug is back.
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MEN'S VOLLEYBALL: Barry selected for world championships
Shortly after Stanford setter Evan Barry was selected to play for the United States in September's beach volleyball junior world championships, he learned that the AVP pro beach tour had been grounded in mid-season because of a lack of sponsorship, possibly for good.
Though Barry, a junior, remains two years removed from graduation, the announcement has caused some introspection about his future.
"I always had that goal to play in the AVP," Barry said. "I saw myself going after it for at least the first year out of college. I still have high hopes that something can come back, but to make a living at it is really up in the air. I have no idea what's going to happen.
"One thing's for sure, it's not for lack of players. There's a ton of guys that are ready to play at a high level."
Barry was selected to represent for the U.S. team at the FIVB Junior World Championships, through a series of qualifying events and camps beginning late May in Santa Cruz.
Barry and three others were selected two weeks ago from a final group of 14. Barry will team with UC Irvine outside hitter Will Montgomery on one U.S. team, while UCI outside hitter Connor Hughes teams with USC setter Connor Hughes will play on the other in the under-21 event.
The tournament will be held Sept. 15-19, in the Mediterranean seaside resort city of Alanya, Turkey.
For Barry, a San Diego native who is expected to replace graduated National Player of the Year Kawika Shoji in the Stanford starting lineup in 2011, this will be the first time he has been on the USA's radar at any level, indoor or outdoor.
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BASEBALL: Top recruits turn down major league offers
Stanford came out strong with the passing of Major League Baseball's Monday night deadline to sign picks from June's First-Year Player Draft. Stanford's top three prospects followed through on their commitments to play for the Cardinal and turned down big-league offers.
Righthanded pitcher A.J. Vanegas (Alameda, Calif.) was a seventh-round pick of the San Diego Padres, Austin Wilson (Los Angeles) was a 12th-round choice of the St. Louis Cardinals, and Brian Ragira (Arlington, Texas) was a 30th-round pick by the Texas Rangers. Each likely would have been drafted higher if they had expressed greater interest in signing.
According to Baseball America, "All three are elite talents. Ragira and Wilson have massive raw power and will team with Jake Stewart to form one of the nation's best outfields. Vanegas is the complete package on the mound; he gives Stanford a marquee pitching recruit for the third straight year, following Brett Mooneyham and Mark Appel."
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WOMEN'S SOCCER: Garciamendez has decision to make
Stanford undoubtedly will be in the thick of the Pacific-10 Conference women's soccer race when the CONCACAF Women's World Cup Qualifying tournament will be played in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula from Oct. 28-Nov. 8.
How does that affect Stanford? Sophomore central defender Alina Garciamendez will most likely receive a call-up, which would conflict with Stanford's final three regular season matches -- against Cal, Oregon State, and Oregon. Garciamendez, a Soccer American Preseason All-American, has been regular for the full Mexican national team since December.
The winner and runner-up from the eight-team event qualify automatically for the 2011 World Cup in Germany.
Garciamendez already has received an e-mail from the Mexican federation with the dates of the tournament, but has not had further contact.
Would she accept a national-team invitation?
"Most likely not," she said this week in preparation for Stanford's opener. "If there's a possibility of me flying back and forth ... I don't know. Most likely not because school's really important to me and my family."
Coach Paul Ratcliffe hasn't talked to her about it yet, but assistant coach Jay Cooney already has tried to persuade her to stay. The decision, however, appears to be Alina's.
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FOOTBALL: Phillips talks about father's legacy
Stanford's fifth-year senior offensive guard Andrew Phillips sat down with brothers Colter, a sophomore tight end at Virginia, and Paul, a freshman tight end at Indiana, for an ESPN interview this week to talk about their father, Bill Phillips, who died in a small plane crash in Alaska.
Andrew described how his youngest brother, 13-year-old Willie, broke his leg, but survived the crash and provided invaluable comfort to the other survivors before help arrived.
He also described how Bill often cleared out his schedule to travel from Maryland to watch Andrew play at Stanford. Andrew would always locate his parents in the stands and nod in their direction before taking the field.
"It's going to be different," Andrew said. "The thing I've learned from this is how people out there love us and really care about my dad.
"I know my mom will be there, and he'll be there, watching all of us at the same time. I take a lot of comfort in that."
Andrew also said his mother, Janet Phillips, is in the process of establishing what is tentatively called the College Athlete Emergency Assistance Fund in honor of her husband. The money would be distributed to athletes who need financial help in the wake of family tragedies.
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FOOTBALL: Reuland tired of doubters
The biggest question concerning the Stanford football team as it prepares for its Sept. 4 opener against visiting Sacramento State is whether the running game can continue to be a force without graduated All-American Toby Gerhart.
Fifth-year senior tight end Konrad Reuland has heard enough of that talk.
"I feel the best way to answer that is through our play and proving it on the field," Reuland said. "We believe what we believe. We're coming out with a lot of confidence that we could do a lot of good things in the run game.
"Rather than talk about it, the whole country will see on the field."
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FOOTBALL: High praise for Luck
Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck has received plenty of attention and compliments following an outstanding redshirt freshman season in 2009. At July's Manning Passing Academy in Thibodaux, La., in July, Luck received some high praise from Archie Manning, the family patriarch and former NFL quarterback.
"Andrew is a very talented young man," Manning told Thibodaux's Daily Comet. "He is so accurate with his throws. He has good passing techniques, and he is so smart throwing the ball downfield. That is such a huge element of playing the position.
"Andrew can make all the throws necessary to be a really top-flight quarterback in college and in the pros. I was extremely impressed with him. Andrew came here to the camp as a high school quarterback about four or five years ago and you can see he is much stronger, and he has a chance to be a real special football player."
Manning added, "Andrew does not have the arm strength that Carson Palmer had at USC, but he is a more accurate passer. His ability to read and recognize coverages are remarkable for someone with very little college starting experience ... Luck looks like a taller version of Drew Brees."
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SOFTBALL: Allister named head coach at Minnesota
Jessica Allister, who led Stanford to a pair of College World Series appearances as a four-year starting catcher (2001-04) has been named head softball coach at University of Minnesota.
Allister spent three seasons (2007-09) on coach John Rittman's staff, before becoming the lead assistant at Oregon last season, helping the Ducks to their first NCAA Super Regional berth.
Allister was a 2004 All-American and a three-time All-Pac-10 selection. She owns Stanford's career records for games played (266) and fielding percentage (.994). She also ranks among the program's top 10 for career hits, doubles, home runs, runs batted in, slugging percentage and putouts.
-- David Kiefer, Stanford Athletics
Ideas for future notebook items are welcomed. Please contact David Kiefer at email@example.com. Past editions of the weekly Cardinal Insider can be found on the main page of gostanford.com by clicking on "General Releases" from the "Sports" pull-down menu.