Kearney continues diving through pain
Every time junior diver Katie Kearney jumps off the board, Rutgers diving coach Fred Woodruff winces as she cuts her way through the water.
He does not cringe because of the way the dive looks. He reacts accordingly because he knows with each dive, his captain hits the pool with pain.
“She dives in pain every day,” Woodruff said. “She’s having a hard time with her injuries.”
Kearney dislocated her shoulder three weeks ago during practice, dislodging it as she hit the water. The injury left the junior with the excruciating soreness she deals in every practice and event.
“I have a torn labrum and a torn shoulder capsule,” Kearney said. “When [my shoulder] relocated, it went in the wrong place, so it’s been really painful.”
The shoulder pain resulted in Kearney being limited during training sessions as she tries to heal and practice at the same time. The accompanying agony affects how she executes her routines.
“It’s been a struggle,” Kearney said. “I’m able to get my dives off, but they just aren’t as good right now. I just have to keep positive and think that I will get back to what I was.”
One thing Kearney does not use the injury for is as an excuse.
The Mahwah, N.J., native credits her upbringing as the reason she fights through the excruciating pain every time she slices through the air and into the pool.
“I grew up with four brothers, so you don’t show pain around them,” Kearney said. “You get tackled and wrestled with all the time, so pain just comes with it.”
Woodruff sees how determined the captain is to improve despite her shoulder problems, pointing to her leadership as essential to the program.
“She has shoulder problems and she dives in pain every day and just grits it out,” Woodruff said. “She is tough as nails. She is the one that grounds the team. She is king of the glue that keeps everyone together.”
Woodruff credits Kearney’s leadership ability as one of the main reasons the divers performed so well through six meets and why the Scarlet Knights are currently undefeated.
“I’m really proud of her and what she brings to the team,” Woodruff said. “She keeps everyone aware of what needs to be done, what’s going on and where we need to be. She’s our captain and definitely our leader.”