NIU diver springs into NCAA meet

By Kari Brackett

At 6:30 a.m., most students are either in bed catching up on sleep or are just getting out of bed trying to get ready for class.

Eric Hasman is an exception. Hasman is at the Anderson Hall Pool perfecting his performance on the 1-meter board and on the platform. Eric is a member of the men’s diving team.

“I know we’ve got to do it. It’s not something I am always thrilled about, but, in the long run, I know it’s good for me and the team,” Hasman said of the morning workouts. The team also works out in the afternoon.

On Jan. 20, all of Hasman’s hard work paid off when he was awarded a double delight. In a meet against Wisconsin-Madison and Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Eric had a total score of 506.40. The score qualified him for the NCAA Zone Diving Qualifications at Champaign, Ill., on March 13 and 14. The score also is a new school record.

Mike Walsh held the old record of 480.05, which was set on Feb. 16, 1985, in a meet against Northern Iowa.

“When I saw the score, I just thought ‘Great, I qualified for zones,'” Hasman said. “I found out a couple of days later that I broke Walsh’s record. Mike was a great diver, and I was so glad to have beaten his record.”

“I thought it was great for him. He worked for it, and he deserved it,” said first-year Coach Chris Chelich, who describes Hasman as “a hard worker and a good man to get along with. He knows what has to be done, and he goes after it.”

The 22-year-old Hasman, from Evergreen Park, Ill., has been diving competitively for nine years. His diving interest began at the city pool where he would watch divers, and eventually he started diving with them. In high school, Eric never thought about joining the diving team, until the coach came to him one day and asked him to come out for the team.

After high school, Eric still wanted to compete, but he wanted to stay close to home. Kansas, Eastern Illinois and Western Illinois were interested in him, but he was not intrigued by them. He wanted to attend NIU, even though the school did not scout him.

“Basically, the school was close, and I knew people who were coming here and that is why I picked Northern,” said Hasman.

aving three coaches in five years has not been a problem with Hasman, who said he is pleased with NIU. In fact, Eric said he believes going through three coaches has helped his career.

“I have learned one dive three different ways, but it is not that bad if one is willing to change,” said Hasman, who added that each coach taught him something different in his approach to diving.

When Eric gets ready for a meet, he said he just relaxes and has fun. Hasman said he used to look around at the crowd, but he tries not to do that because he loses his concentration.

“I go in a meet, and if they (the dives) go, then great; if not, then there’s not a whole lot you can do,” Hasman said. “Sometimes I picture the dive in my mind. On a bad day, I picture myself doing bad on a dive that I’m not that good at, and I actually do better.”

The five-year veteran did have some problems last year when he was redshirted with a shoulder injury. After noticing pain in his shoulder, Hasman went from doctor to doctor, and no one really could tell him what was wrong.

“I finally had surgery, and the surgeon found torn ligaments, so he stapled them together,” Hasman said. “It still hurts and will never be the same, but I try to be careful. If it gets too painful, I just stop diving.”

asman said he is excited about the NCAA Zones, and he hopes to have fond memories from it.

“It will be great to just see all the great divers,” Hasman said. “I’ve been told that Bruce Kimball was there a couple of years ago, and he was not far behind Greg Louganis, the U.S. Olympic diver.”