SOUTHLAKE, Texas — Hailey Hernandez is the best diver in the state of Texas. The senior at Southlake Carroll High School has won the 1-meter dive state championship for the last four years -- from freshman to senior year.
"It's just been such an awesome ride," Carroll diving coach Carolyn Hryorchuk said.
When did they know they had something special with Hailey?
"When she was born," Hryorchuk said with a laugh.
Well, she's not far off. Hernandez has been a force since the moment she stood on the diving board as a freshman, and showed her talent even before then, as she came up through middle school.
"Going in, I never would've imagined what it has come out to be," Hernandez said.
In fact, it almost didn't happen at all.
"In middle school, I actually considered quitting," Hernandez said. "I struggled with a lot of mental issues, overcoming fear, challenges of learning new dives, and taking it to that next level. Because I knew I could be fine where I was, but to really excel and succeed, I needed to get some harder dives."
"You're not always on the mountain top," Hryorchuk said. "You're gonna get in the valley. But it's 'What are you going to do, in the valley? What are you gonna do?'"
"I stuck with it," Hernandez said. "My coaches and everyone supported me, and I was able to do that. And I'm so happy that I have."
And now she's a four-time state champ, on her way to UT, and with Olympic dreams.
"I'm looking forward to Olympic Trials," she said, "because that will just be such a cool experience for me, to compete against so many amazing athletes."
And to think, this is still just the beginning.
"She's still on the rise," Hryorchuk said. "I really don't see her peaking until another 3-4 more years."
Look out, Paris, 2024.