Natasha Marie Sondeno is unique. The diving star from Pitman High has transcended the sport at her school and caused a revolution in the area that is just beginning.
After Thursday, Sondeno stepped into a new chapter in her life after signing her letter of intent to attend San Jose State University on a diving scholarship.
“This was one of my main goals. Most kids dream of other things like being in a World Series or something, but for diving, I was like, 'I really want to go to college,' I was shooting for a diving scholarship,” Sondeno said. “It’s been a big deal to push me to improve.”
No other female diving athlete in the Stanislaus District had achieved as much success as Sondeno, who has been making a splash in pools since she began diving at age 10.
She is the first female diver to compete in California’s high school diving championship, and advanced to the final group of divers last season, eventually placing 16th as a junior. Sondeno also took fourth in the Sac-Joaquin Section Championships with a score of 382.65 and in her three-years at Pitman has always been to Sections in diving since her freshman year.
Although it seems natural, the always cheery Sondeno had to work at honing her potential into what has given her this much success.
“Well for diving you kind of have to have some sort of flexible background so I was lucky to have done gymnastics for 12 years,” said Sondeno who started gymnastics when she was 2. “I also did swimming for a long time but I got bored because I need to be doing all kinds of things at once.”
Logan Champion, who is a local diving coach, began to teach Sondeno about the sport.
“I just got addicted and fell in love with the sport and have been doing it ever since,” said Sondeno, 17.
Along with the talent to dive, Sondeno has also put in an immense amount of time and dedication into her schoolwork, amassing an outstanding grade-point-average of 4.25.
“I honestly don't like getting anything below an 'A.’ It kind of bugs me but it’s more of time management,” she said. “Over the years, traveling and going back and forth and figuring out what time you have to jam in homework and get it done is how I have been able to do it.”
Sondeno also sends high praises to her friends, family, coaches and teachers.
“Keeping me going is my family because they drive me to practice and have been so supportive and especially teachers too,” she said. “They have been lenient with me in case I have a dive meet or have really long practices, then I explain to them what is going on. So it’s a mix of everyone I know.”
Sondeno now heads into her final year at Pitman High with the diving season on the horizon
“I would like to keep going with my track record so I would like to go to Sections again and finish top three or four that'd be ideal,” she added. “I would like to go to State because last year was the first year so it was great to be part of a whole new experience that was special. I’d like to experience that again.”