SCHENECTADY, NY (NEWS10) — In the seventh grade, Maya Earlywine was forced to stop gymnastics due to a back injury. But when one door closes, another one opens. For Maya, it was the door to the pool.

“It was actually really hard to quit that sport because I’d done it for so long,” said Earlywine. “Then moving into diving, it was just way less pressure on my body, and it was a lot more fun honestly.”

When Maya began her diving journey, she wasn’t starting from a blank slate. Her gymnastic abilities translated perfectly. “She already had the flexibility and strength and coordination that you have to teach most other people,” said coach Jeremy Sagaille.

It all clicked quickly. “I made states my first year,” said Earlywine. “I think I knew, that’s when I was like, ‘Oh, I’m good at this.'”

The accolades followed. Two-time state finalist, Suburban Council champion, and perhaps most notably – the six dive record at Bethlehem, breaking her own record this past season. But from the start, those things weren’t what meant the most to Maya. “When we first started working together, I was like, ‘Man, I want to see you win sectionals, win states, go on to Division-I,'” said Sagaille. “I think she kind of taught me a little bit like, ‘Hey, I want to have fun. I want to enjoy myself.'”

That kind of attitude is exactly what made the University of Denver, a Division-I program, the right fit for her. “The coach is very much involved in the process of diving,” said Earlywine. “It’s not just winning, like the outcome. It’s really important to me to focus on the mindfulness and the mental aspect of the sport, not just the dives themselves.”

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