Recent Turlock High graduate and all-league diver Andrew Caldera has big aspirations as he embarks on a new journey that includes him bringing back diving at Merced College — and then hopefully on to Long Beach State, his ultimate goal.
“I reached out to the coaches at Merced College …and said they need divers. I am starting the team back up at Merced College,” said Caldera. “Going to be doing one meter and three-meter springboard and hopefully with the skill I obtain at Merced College in two years I want to move on to Long Beach State to continue my diving career.”
Caldera is a four-time all-league selection and a four-time section qualifier, but his journey wasn’t easy. He credits sports for helping him through his “troubled child” phase.
“All my friends say I am reckless. I like living on the edge, live like you are going to die tomorrow and learn like you are going to live forever,” said Caldera. “In middle school I was a troubled child but when water polo and sports came around, then I had a different mindset and just kept working from there.”
Since he can remember, Caldera has been on the go and looking to extreme sports or something that could fuel his active lifestyle.
“What got me started in diving was on a trampoline. I enjoyed doing front flips and I have broken my arms jumping into pools and we have a 10-foot shed on our backyard, and I learned how to land on the grass, always on scooters and bikes doing front flips,” said Caldera.
He credits his parents for pushing him both in school and sports, and his coach for all four years in high school, Juan Carlos Carrillo, for making difference in his life.
“Through all four years at Turlock, it was Juan, my diving coach if it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be where I am today,” said Caldera. “He pushed me to my limits and became my brother, he showed me the dives and kept pushing me.”
Caldera started diving his freshman year.
Former coach Manuel Bettencourt told Caldera he could pursue diving if he wished to and that got him excited.
“I got hooked on it really quickly and got to know my coaches really well and got to know my dive team,” said Caldera.
From his freshman year to his senior year he was an all-league diver and made it to sections all four seasons.
“When sophomore year came, I worked on things most club divers do. I got it dialed in, I didn’t do it with clubs, mainly just doing it in high school and doing it four months out of the year,” said Caldera.
That year in 2017, Caldera took 4th out of 12th at Sac-Joaquin Section finals.
As a junior in 2018, things started to roll around and big dives began to fall.
“Big dives consisting of forward two and a half, inward doubles, doubles — I was just going for it,” said Caldera. “I then placed 12th out of like 30 something and everyone in front of me were year around divers, I was one of two people in 12 spots that was just a high school diver.”
No pain, no gain was the motto Caldera has lived by and he mentioned how he got hit so many times, but never failed to keep trying.
When his senior year rolled around this past season, Caldera was ready.
“This was my year where I thought I could be a four-time league champion and could be my momentum,” he said. “Doing a back double and two and a half and inward doubles consistently and come league championship, I was spot on with dives.”
With over 325 points, he placed first and then pushed harder at sections. He ended up finishing in 12th place.
A score of 375 is an All-American score, while Caldera saw a career high score of 335.
“I was trying hard when sections came around this past spring, and threw my reverse double and that cost me,” said Caldera.
Caldera is also working towards getting the sport he loves out there.
“What I want to do is get diving out there. It’s such an underrated sport. If you watch practices, you see the intensity,” said Caldera. “My coach always told me to leave the program better than when we started and we set a bar for the upcoming years. I’m excited to see what the program will reach. I believe we have a strong team coming behind us.”
Along with diving, Caldera was also part of the water polo and swimming teams.
“So much crazy conditioning,” said Caldera. “Our water polo team, we came into a new CCAL league and… we took the first ever varsity title, undefeated, 10-0.”
Next for Caldera is to continue training and work his way to LBSU.
“Long Beach State is the ultimate goal… right now I’m going to study mechanical engineering at Merced College and then at LBSU and work at Disney,” Caldera added.