Jeanpaul Ditto: Diving and striving for success

By Noelle Hanson, Staff Writer

Jeanpaul Ditto is one of the top 100 high school divers in the United States and his coaches predict that he could even make it to the Olympics. But he’s also just a normal high school student, trying to get through junior year.  

Only a month after diving for the first time on the Carmel High School Diving Team in his hometown of Carmel, Jeanpaul began making the often multiple hour trek to train at Stanford with Coach Ryan Wallace, an assisting diving coach at Stanford. His previous training in gymnastics and love of flipping made him a natural off the diving board. His attitude and outlook on his athletic career has proved to be a major strength.

“He is not afraid to throw new dives or push himself toward progress,” Los Altos diving coach and science teacher Alexandra Wilson said. “The sport of diving is often mental and having the courage to throw new things off the board for the sake of improvement is critical in a diver’s success. He also responds well to constructive criticism. This makes him coachable athlete who is better able to improve himself through the feedback of others.”

However, the long commute began to have a serious impact on social life and life at home.

“I would stay over on weekends in San Jose with some of the kids I made friends with on the team,” Jeanpaul said. “We decided to move at the end of summer so we wouldn’t have to deal with commuting during the school year.”

Moving right before junior year was  a challenge. Compared to Carmel, schooling in the Bay Area was more stressful and demanding than Jeanpaul expected. In fact, the atmosphere here in Los Altos was far more competitive than the laid-back Carmel he was used to.

Making the transition from diving as a spring school sport three months out of the year to a dedicated six days a week, two hours each day, proved to be shocking and intense.

And with such a difficult and taxing schedule, finding time to make friends and maintain a social life is near impossible.

“I have very little free time with my daily schedule,” Jeanpaul said. “This includes diving everyday, doing homework, studying for the SAT and ACT and keeping in touch with college coaches for the recruiting processes. Overall, it has had a major effect on me emotionally and I’d say this year has been the hardest year of my life so far.”

However, these sacrifices have had enormous payoffs. Jeanpaul was awarded the All American Award, given to the top 100 high school divers in the United States. He also managed to set a new league record for Santa Clara Valley Athletic League.

Despite the stresses that school and diving have brought him, Jeanpaul remains positive.

“His talent is augmented by the fact that he is a dedicated athlete that works very hard and is very self motivated,” Coach Wilson said. “JP comes on deck each day with a smile and always encourages his teammates.”

In terms of his future in diving, Jeanpaul is very open. He recognizes the upper hand diving gives him when applying to colleges, however he is careful not force any career paths after that.

Perhaps Jeanpaul will be an Olympian, perhaps not. Right now, however, he’s just trying to get through finals.