Pitman High varsity diver Natasha Sondeno is used to diving into any challenge, whether it’s in and out of the pool.
At the age of 10, Sondeno climbed up the rungs to the diving board and took the plunge into the water below for the first time. Since then the aspiring pediatrician and Pitman junior has been hooked on the sport and has blossomed into one of the best divers in the Section.
“I started out as a swimmer on the Sea Dogs and then I saw people diving at Turlock and decided to give it a try because it looked fun and I did gymnastics so it helped,” said Sondeno. “As a 10 year old it was different diving with high schoolers, but I like the challenge.”
In her freshman year, Sondeno competed at the varsity level and in the Sac-Joaquin Section finals she placed fourth after tallying a score of 407.6 in the trials run which was good enough for an All-American qualifying time.
As a sophomore, Sondeno took the entire area by storm after placing first out of 20 girls at the 2014 varsity diving Division I CIF Sectionals with a score of 274.5 in the trial run. She would eventually top out in third.
“Last year I had a pretty good meet for sections,” said Sondeno. “Not my best but it was a better meet and I was proud of myself. I could've done better, but what are you going to do.”
This year Sondeno qualified for first in the Sac-Joaquin Section diving trials with a score of 398.10.
“There is some great competition going into the finals. It is nerve-wracking but I hope to do my best and my main goal is to make State,” Sondeno said.
Making her way to the top of the ranks has meant countless hours of training in between her school commitments at a variety of locations and with various coaches. She’s managed to hold down a grade point average of 4.0 for her junior year, all the while taking multiple advance placement courses. Her hard work earned her a spot on the Nationals team twice during her time in the Junior Olympics in the 14-15 age group.
“Diving has been a big part of my maturity process. I have had to travel to many places without parents, or my team,” Sondeno said. “It’s a ‘me’ thing. It was different. I liked competing with older kids because it pushed me to where I could dive with my junior Olympic team and it was like a family.”
Sondeno has recently switched over to the Delta Valley Divers, which is providing her with new experiences and coaching styles.
“Probably the biggest influence for me has been the different coaches,” said Sondeno. “I have had many and the coach at Delta has a different personality than I am used to. Pushy, but does it in a way that gets you to where you want to go to get better.”
And while Sondeno is thrilled with diving competition, she has her sights set even further down the road.
“I definitely intend on bettering myself at collegiate diving,” said Sondeno. “I just want to focus on learning more at school and trying to go further in life academically than sports. Sports are more of a stepping stone to get me to where I am going to being a pediatrician, I hope to accomplish that.”