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Bisignani Battles The Boys

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As the swimming and diving season comes to a close, one girl will surely stick in the judges head. Lauren Bisignani will be remembered for her stellar freshman year as she took on the roll of diving alongside the boys.

When Lauren joined the varsity diving team she was faced a predicament. Five girls were on the team and there were only three open spots for competition. To Lauren’s pleasure, there no boys competing for Latrobe this year. This opened the door up for the coach Trish Brownlee to appeal to WPIAL diving to allow for two of her athletes to dive as boys for the entire year.

With the boards approval Lauren Bisignani and Jennifer Depree took on the roll as their teammates Lilly Barta, and Taylor and Jordyn Miller filled the girls positions. “It would be a good opportunity for Lauren to get meets in”, said the varsity diving Coach Trish Brownlee. “She would get a lot of experience.”

Being given the opportunity to dive at every meet gave Lauren a better chance of making it to WPIALs, where she would also dive as a boy if she made it. But Lauren did not need more than a single meet to  qualify for WPIALS. In her very first meet of the season against Mt. Pleasant Lauren crushed the boys required score of 170 points. “I was excited,” said Lauren. “I wasn’t expecting to qualify my first meet.” At the following meet, Lauren easily scored over 190 points, which would have made her eligible to dive as a girl at WPIALs if she were not registered as a boy.

At WPIALs, Lauren made the first round of cuts for semi-finals. Unfortunately, she was knocked out of the second round due to a dive that did not meet the requirements of the dive she was to perform and was there for deemed as a failed dive. As a freshman competing at WPIALs for the first time against such skilled male divers, Lauren’s nerves got the best of her. “The boys were just so unexplainably good,” said Lauren.

Even with her rough day at WPIALs, Lauren spent much of her season with scores around 200, her best being a 231.Qualifying for WPIALs and producing such strong scores is impressive for a freshman. Lauren attributes much of her success to her prior training. She began working with Coach Brownlee in the fifth grade, but did not begin taking her dives seriously until the seventh grade.

While Lauren has received much praise for her amazing season, it did come with a bit of backlash. “Some people, like the county (WCCA Westmoreland County Coaches Association) Judges, didn’t want me diving as a boy because they didn’t think it was legal,” said Lauren. Yet, it was completely legal and the WPIAL diving board provided Coach Brownlee with a note stating that. Even with the assistance of the board, Lauren still received some low scores from certain judges who did not approve of the team’s strategy.

Even though not all the judges agreed with the tactics, Lauren said, “All of the boys from the other schools are really supportive. They didn’t care that I’m diving with them.”

As the season ended, Lauren reflected on her first year, “I’ve enjoyed diving. I love the girls on the team.”

The girls clearly loved her as well and truly appreciated all of the effort she had put into her dives this season. Taylor Miller, senior captain, said, “She crushed every meet.”

Lauren  is already looking forward to next season. At that time, she will be relieved from her position of diving as a boy, because of spots opened to her by departing seniors, and enter into the even more competitive area of girls diving. Coach Brownlee said, “I think with the experience and competition with the boys will make her a better diver next year as a girl.”

 In order to succeed to her fullest in her new role, Laurens plans to continue attending practices with Trish Brownlee over the summer to maintain and polish the dives she has learned throughout this past season. With Lauren’s hard work and dedication no dive will be to difficult or score to large.

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