Julie Dickinson takes success in stride, motivates team


Jack MacDonald/Iowa State Daily

Senior Julie Dickinson performs a dive during the Cyclones’ 153-147 win over West Virginia Jan. 21.  

Rachel Given

Consistency. That’s one word to describe senior Iowa State diver Julie Dickinson.

She reached out to head coach Jeff Warrick before coming to Iowa State in 2013 to jump on the dive team. Warrick knew of Dickinson because the Clive, Iowa, native attended Iowa State’s diving camps when she was younger.

Dickinson has changed a lot during her time at Iowa State, but one thing remained — her consistency in her sport.

“My first year [coaching her], I don’t know if I heard her talk,” Warrick said.

But through her years on the Iowa State diving boards, Dickinson has dove her way to four of the top-10 best scores on the 1-meter board in program history, three Big 12 Diver of the Week awards, Iowa State’s Most Improved Diver the last two seasons and was named the team captain for the 2016-17 season.

Dickinson’s freshman year was a wake-up call. She didn’t make the NCAA Zones competition that year and didn’t meet any of her personal goals. That years that followed were a different story.

“Watching myself grow has been really rewarding, how hard work can really pay off,” Dickinson said.

Dickinson has reached her personal goals a few times this season. She wanted to break 300 points on at least one board to end her collegiate career. She did, and more. She broke the goal on both the 1-meter and 3-meter boards on senior day against state-rival UNI.

Dickinson has swept her competition in the last three dual meets of the season on both the 1-meter and 3-meter boards. 

“I always know how good she can dive and how good she can be, but it is good to see consistency in those performances,” Warrick said. “Even if she hadn’t won but had the same score, I would be saying the same thing. She’s very consistent.”

Consistent, again.

“I feel like I’m good at making little changes and never really being satisfied with something,” Dickinson said. “I don’t know if that’s good or bad, but I feel like there’s always something to improve on, and that’s why I think I’ve grown so much since my freshman year.”

Fellow senior diver Becky Stochl and Dickinson have a close relationship and have grown into their roles on the team together. Dickinson believes they got really close during their freshman year. Stochl was a late walk-on, and Dickinson said they were in the same boat, starting lower and working their way up.

“I think they enjoy each other’s company after spending all those years together in good times and bad times, and hard times and fun times,” Warrick said. “I think they push each other, too. Becky has improved, and Julie has improved since they both began. I think they’ve both fed off each other in that way.”

On deck before a meet, one can see the duo fist bumping, laughing and smiling, sending each other their “magic” before going up on the board.

But that’s not the only quirk Dickinson has for a meet. The senior can be seen spraying Tough Skin, a skin adhesive, on her legs before her 107C, a forward 3.5-turn somersault in the tuck position. Slipping out of the position during execution could be really bad, and Dickinson doesn’t want to chance it. The force of going forward is too much to slip.

Being the positive role model on the team as a team captain this year didn’t come easy at first, but her consistency to take on the role helped her fit in.

“It was difficult to get into that role because I like to be friends with everyone on the team, but there is also a place for me to be captain and not be mean, but enforcing the rules,” Dickinson said. “Having that balance has been interesting.”

If Dickinson doesn’t know how to help, she’ll turn to Stochl for help. Both look to each other as best friends.

“She’s done really well [in her leadership role],” Warrick said. “I think she’s been a positive force on the team. I’ve been real happy with her as a captain.”

Dickinson has seen freshman Katherine Mueller struggle mentally in the sport and has taken her under her wing, understanding exactly what she is going through. Mueller said becoming a member of the team as the only freshman this year was difficult but it helped having Dickinson there.

“Telling her my experiences has seemed to help her,” Dickinson said. “I also struggle a lot mentally. I feel like we all do.”

Mueller and Dickinson were chosen by assistant swim coach Kelly Nordell to take on big sister and little sister roles this year. Freshmen are paired with seniors, and sophomores are paired with juniors each year. This gives a specific person for the freshmen to turn to for questions or help.

Warrick thinks this helps the fresh faces feel like part of the team. Dickinson and Mueller have gone out to eat a few times to bond, and Dickinson said she really tries to be there for the freshman.

“I’m really glad I got to dive with her for a year; she’s a great role model for me,” Mueller said. “I want to be Julie when I’m a senior.”

Mueller said Dickinson has gained a lot of respect from her peers and hopes to have the same respect into her final year.

While still unsure of what she’ll be doing after she walks across the stage in May for graduation, Dickinson will always remember her time as a Cyclone and hopes to leave a persistent attitude with her teammates.

“Those building blocks are really important, and hard work is what really pays off in the end,” Dickinson said. “I genuinely enjoy this sport.”