There was a time when Cheyenne Cousineau was an athlete without a sport.
Growing up, the Temperance native spent a great deal time in gymnastics. But a variety of circumstances forced her to give up that sport and channel her energies in another direction.
"In my junior high I tried different sports, like track and cheerleading," Cousineau said. "But I didn't get the feeling that I had in gymnastics.
"Then I found diving."
It was a match made in heaven. Cousineau, now a senior at Bedford, has won back-to-back Michigan state diving titles as she works toward winning a third consecutive crown this year.
Cousineau began diving in eighth grade and quickly excelled, finishing third in Michigan as a freshman before winning the 2007 state title on the 1-meter board with 433.70 points.
"As a sophomore, I was just someone trying to catch everyone else," Cousineau said. "I was on the radar, but just as someone who could win, or might win.
"Last year, everyone was trying to catch me. I felt a lot more pressure. But I just tried to stay calm and not worry."
In last year's meet Cousineau set a state record with 483.80 points and was named the state's Division I diver of the year by the Michigan Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association. She also was chosen as a high school All-American diver by the National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association.
"I think there were more expectations as a junior," Cousineau said. "As a senior, I'm just going out there to have fun. I want to win, and I want to do my best, though. When it gets closer [to the state meet], I'll probably feel more pressure."
Bedford diving coach Marianne
Coppens said her success is a product of more than just raw ability.
"Cheyenne's attitude is wonderful," Coppens said. "She will try anything, and if a diver doesn't try new things, they can't get any better. She is always willing to try new things.
"But she also is a great teammate in that she is very encouraging to all of her teammates."
Coppens said Cousineau also has a strong work ethic, which manifests itself in a grueling practice schedule that includes work on both springboard and platform diving with the Legacy Diving club team based in Ypsilanti, Mich., along with her work with Coppens.
That hard work has resulted in a bright future in the sport. Last spring Cousineau competed at the USA Diving Senior Nationals in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., placing fifth in the 3-meter springboard while finishing 12th in the 10-meter platform in a competition filled with college and Olympic hopefuls.
Her college choices include some of the most prestigious programs in the country: Georgia, Indiana, Ohio State, Purdue, and Texas.
"I know I'm looking at schools with great diving programs, so I can't go wrong with my final choice," she said. "I'd like to find a coach that I can work together with to realize my potential in diving.
"I'm also looking at schools with great academics. I'd like to enter a pre-med program, so good academics are an important requirement."
Cousineau said her diving aspirations extend beyond college.
"Obviously I want to do well in college competition, but I'd also love to try and make an international team with USA Diving," she said. "I'd also like to qualify for the Olympic Trials in 2012 and 2016."
Coppens confirmed that Cousineau's dreams are more than wishful thinking."Cheyenne has been good enough to compete at the college level ever since she was a freshman in high school," Coppens said. "She puts in endless hours of work, and she is willing to do whatever work is needed until she has perfected a dive."
Cousineau said her future focus will turn away from 1-meter springboard, which is competed only at the high-school level, and turn more toward platform diving than to 3-meter spring
"Fewer girls compete in platform diving than springboard, and platform is harder," she explained. "In the future I'll focus more on platform because I like it more, I'm better at it, and it's more important to me."
Cousineau added that her success in platform diving - which involves diving from a solid platform 33 feet, or roughly three stories, above the water - gives her a feeling even better than that she experienced as a gymnast so many years ago.
"I love that rush you get when you do your best diving on a platform," she said. "It's just a great feeling when you hit the water and you know you've done a dive well.
"There's just such a great sense of accomplishment when you work on something, and then you get it right. Then I work to make it better."
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