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Communications and Marketing
Forester diving makes headlines
The Chicago Tribune online featured an interview with All-American diver Heath Ogawa ’19 and diving coach Donna O’Brien.
The article appeared in the print edition of the Tribune’s Deerfield Review and in various online editions:
Deerfield grad Heath Ogawa wants
more than All-American honor
By Steve Sadin
Earning Division III All-American diving honors as a Lake Forest College freshman is just the beginning for Deerfield graduate Heath Ogawa.
Ogawa said he wants to be a national champion before he graduates.
Ogawa finished eighth in the 1-meter diving competition at the NCAA Division III championships in Greensboro, North Carolina, on March 18 to earn All-America honors. He finished in 13th place in the 3-meter event two days before.
The first eight finishers in each event are named All-American, according to Lake Forest College diving coach Donna O’Brien. Ogawa’s 3-meter performance was good for an honorable mention. Ogawa’s 1-meter finish was the best by a diver in Forester men’s team history.
“I want to become a champion and bring it home to Lake Forest,” Ogawa said. “It may not be next season, but by the time I’m a senior, I want to be a national champion.”
O’Brien said she was not surprised by Ogawa’s goal. She said his courage and work ethic have him on a path to win an individual title.
“He’s off to a good start,” O’Brien said. “He’s seen what kind of competition there is now that’s he’s had the opportunity to go to the meet.”
Doug Foerch, Ogawa’s diving and gymnastics coach at Deerfield, said Ogawa made strides each year of his high school career. Last year Ogawa participated in the state swim meet and won a state gymnastics title on the vault.
“Had you asked me when he was a freshman if he was going to be a state vault champion, I would have said no way,” Foerch said. “He is more than capable of moving up seven spots.”
Ogawa had some challenges to overcome this year, according to O’Brien. She said he was ill before zone competition to qualify for the NCAA championships but posted sufficient scores.
Challenges are nothing new for Ogawa. He’s the son of a Japanese father and American mother and was raised in Japan. He came to the United States after Japan was hit with a major earthquake and tsunami in 2011.
Though Ogawa got to the 3-meter finals, he said he was disappointed in his performance. He said he kept focused on his dives to move up in the standings and make the top eight in the 1-meter event.
“My first dives (in the 3-meter event) weren’t very good, but I stayed with it and climbed the ladder,” Ogawa said. “I shook it off and focused on the 1-meter. Not all of my dives were good, but I stayed focused.”
O’Brien credited Ogawa’s focus to his courage. She said he does not develop fear before the next dive when the previous one was not to his satisfaction.
“He’s very brave,” O’Brien said. “He has a lot of air sense. He shrugs off the pressure, and a lot of kids can’t do that.”
Steve Sadin is a freelance reporter for Pioneer Press, a Chicago Tribune newspaper.