Written by Rich Forestano Friday, 17 February 2012 00:00
With every step, hop and dive off the board, he zones in on the task at hand. With each ladder climbed and dive finished, he awaits the score. Some scores mean more than others, but one hit home with ninth-grade Syosset High School diver Nicholas Woska.
His nickname growing up was “Tigger” because like his bounce off the diving board, Woska never stopped bouncing off of anything.
Woska broke the long-standing high school 11-dive record by scoring a 366 in this year’s Nassau County High School Championship. SHS Alum Richard Gorle previously held the record but, tragically, passed away in a traffic accident last year.‘The record is on the board at the school and it’s always been my goal to beat that,” Woska said. “I know that to the nearest tenth of a point what the record score is. I was going into that meet shooting to break that record.”
During this year’s season, Woska also broke the existing six-dive record of 186 by scoring a whopping 241 in a meet against Great Neck South. He broke the record numerous times during the season, but scored highest against GNS.
Entering only his third year as a diver, Nicholas has already competed in a number of regional events and scored high enough to qualify for the USA Diving Nationals last year.
“I was floored when I heard I qualified,” he said. “It’s a big accomplishment for me.”
Woska qualified but could not attend Nationals. True to his diving form, he qualified again this year. He wants to and plans to attend this year.
“This year I may go,” he said.
Woska commended his coaches Barry Grodin and head coach Chris Schleider. Schleider coached Woska since he was five.
“I was swimming on a little kids private team called the Stingrays for Chris Schleider since I was 5 or 7 years old,” Woska said. “I was always pretty good in the water and one day one of my friends convinced me to try out for diving.”
Schleider told the Tribune that Woska is an extremely coachable, knowledgeable diver whose ceiling has not been reached yet.
“His work ethic is phenomenal,” Schleider said. “He does everything we ask of him. He’s very dedicated to the sport of diving and he has the whole world in front of him.”
Woska, unaware that diving was a commodity in Syosset, jumped at the chance to compete as a diver. One thing led to another, according to Woska, and Schleider put him on the varsity squad.
“I was a swimmer and our coach asked if anyone would like to try diving,” Woska said when asked how he got into diving. “I love to bounce so I thought I would give it a try. Syosset has a great dive coach in coach Grodin. He’s been coaching the team for over 40 years and really knows the sport. He is compassionate and patient with us. I love diving for him and the team.”
Woska also dives for the prestigious Long Island Divers coached by George Taylor. The ninth-grader says his work with Taylor translates to his performance for Syosset.
“That’s helped me a lot,” he said. “But I feel it’s a combination of both that has aided my development.”
Woska dives year-round with Taylor to hone his craft. His typical day is not the normal schedule of an average high school student.
He practices almost every day of the week and his schoolwork does not suffer for it.
“Monday to Friday, get up for school,” Woska stated, continuing, “usually I have practice [for Taylor] on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and Saturday and Sunday most of the time. For my school team, I have practice every day after school during the week. It’s all planning.”
He originally was a dual athlete playing lacrosse, but had to choose one over the other. “I had too much diving involved and that’s what I want to do,” he said.
Woska already has his sights set on the future. He sees himself diving in college for Colorado University.
“That’s my main goal, to dive there,” he said.
“I’m just happy I found a sport that has great comradery among its participants,” Woska stated. “We root each other on and push each other to try harder dives and we do it because we love the sport.”
His father Thomas feels that his son has big days ahead.
“I’m really proud of him as a dad,” he said. “He is on his way to doing great things.”