eschickler@bcnnew.com

Megan Kratky developed quickly into a college-level diver. A senior diving captain for the Staples swimming and diving team this fall, she will be diving for the Dartmouth College women's swimming and diving team next year.

"The [Dartmouth] coach said he wanted me and I'm really excited about being on the team," says Kratky.

Unlike most collegiate divers who have worked on their craft since they were 8 years old or younger, she began diving sophomore year when she stopped doing club gymnastics and decided to do a fall sport at Staples. Being a veteran gymnast at Arena in Stamford helped her find her niche with the Lady Wreckers.

"I wanted to get involved with high school sports and I had no idea about it," recalls Kratky. "I was new at it and I tried to get better. Diving is the same thing I like about gymnastics, all the flipping and twisting, which made the transition easier."

Staples girls swimming coach Mike Laux saw she'd succeed as a diver and has consistently scored points for the next three years.

"She's a great athlete, a great girl, improved tremendously over the years since she started to dive and is a quiet leader," says Laux.

Once she joined the team, Lady Wrecker diving coach Jeanine Oburchay coached her during the high school season.

"Megan has done a great job and came a long way since she began to dive sophomore year," says Oburchay. "She's a team leader, works hard and I was fortunate to coach her the past three years."

Sophomore year, she joined the Staples gymnastics team as well and was an All-State gymnast the next two years. Although she was stellar in gymnastics, diving piqued her interest and during the winter of her junior year, she started to dive for Whirlwind Diving in New Canaan under the tutelage of coach Joe Somma and hasn't stopped working with him ever since.

"He's absolutely wonderful and a great coach," says Kratky. "I went over there, met Joe, thought I'd love the program and I did. I'm trying to improve and I'm working on getting better."

When she first joined Whirlwind, Somma saw she had potential and relished the opportunity of taking her under his wing.

"She's come a long way in a short period of time," says Somma. "I think the key for Megan is being a gymnast and having a diver's body. She has long lines, good entry and a good toe point."

The similarities between diving and gymnastics don't end with the skill sets both sports require. Both sports are subjective in nature in which a score sometimes depends on a judge's opinion and many athletes have disagreed with the score. The ability to remain composed, even when she disagrees with a score has helped her psychologically in meets.

"I'm used to it," says Kratky. "I can't control the judges and I go out and do the best I can do."

She started gymnastics at age 6 and credits her time and effort at Arena for her success at the club level as well as for the Lady Wreckers. The balance beam is her favorite event and she experienced success in it, winning state titles in it for Arena and the FCIAC title for Staples sophomore year.

She credits Arena beam coach Laurie DiFrancisco for her success and likes the event because it pushes her to do well in it.

"Beam is a challenge and I like trying to perfect it," says Kratky. "Keeping my composure was always a challenge but I worked at it. Laurie DiFrancisco is known nationally and is one of the best beam coaches in the country."

Growing up, she played soccer from kindergarten to eighth grade but stopped playing because it was too much of a commitment and it conflicted with gymnastics. Similarly, she gave up gymnastics even though she loved it because she wanted to devote her time to diving.

Leadership is a strength of hers as she served as diving captain, leading the divers by example through her work ethic and verbally by communicating well with them.

"I loved having the opportunity to be a leader on the team," says Kratky. "I was honored to be a captain."

Academically, she takes mostly AP courses and a few honors courses. She's also the team's representative to the Staples Scholar-Athlete banquet and the first diver to garner this honor. Economics is her favorite subject.

"I have to be really efficient," says Kratky. "I have practice after school and I have to make the best use of my time."

She's undecided about her major but is looking forward to attend Dartmouth. In order to succeed on the diving platform, she knows she'll have to improve because she'll be facing tougher competition.

"Practice is important," says Kratky. "I know they have a great team and I'm glad to be a part of it. I know I have to gain experience because it's only been a year I've been into diving [fulltime]. Dartmouth is my dream school and I couldn't be happier going there. I like the size of the school, the outdoorsy focus and its sports program. I thought I'd fit in and I'd have a great time there."

The coaches are confident she'll do well there.

"Colleges need good divers and she'll be a good addition to their team," says Laux.

Oburchay says, "She's such a committed athlete, goal-oriented and will do great. She's a great, is easy to coach and Dartmouth is lucky to have her."

Somma says, "She hasn't tapped into her ability yet. The more she dives, the better she gets. If I were her college coach, I'd be excited to have her because she'll get better and better. She's a great girl, she works hard and whatever she does, she'll be successful in life."