The 2018 Hopkinton High alum was a high school All-American. After her perfomance last winter as a Denison sophomore, she is a college All-American as well.
A diving well is a pool with only deep water that separates swimmers from those that spring from the top board. To Mattie Stauss, that lonely territory goes deeper below the surface.
When she was just eight years old, Stauss was watching a Lincoln-Sudbury swim meet and noticed the area where divers were practicing.
“I looked over at the diving well and asked my dad if he knew what those boards were,” recalled Stauss, a 2018 Hopkinton High alum who is now a junior at Denison University. “He told me that it was a sport called diving and that he himself did it in high school and in college.”
“Mattie said, ‘I’d really like to try that,’” recalled Mattie’s father, Jim Stauss. “She had a tremendous knack for it.”
Jim was a diver and a soccer player at Denison, while Mattie’s mother, Anne, was a swimmer at the University of New Hampshire. So, being in the water was in her blood. But diving became her passion after her dad signed her up and she began to follow in his footsteps.
Stauss followed in his steps so much she ended up diving at the exact same university he did. Stauss had her biggest performance on Feb. 28 of this year the NCAA Region 3 meet hosted by Denison at the Granville, Ohio, campus.
As a freshman in 2019, Stauss finished in 12th place on the 1-meter dive with a score of 391.75. This time, though, Stauss bounced back with a score of 408.35 and a fifth-place finish, earning her the title of All-American and qualifying her for the 2020 NCAA Division III Swimming & Diving Championships in Greensboro, North Carolina.
“I found out at the end that I had qualified for nationals and it was such a huge weight off my shoulders,” Stauss said. “All of my hard work had finally paid off and I just broke down and cried so many tears of joy.”
Back in Hopkinton, her family was cheering her on.
“My dad and I weren’t able to make it to her regional meet, so we sat in our kitchen and live-streamed it,” Mattie’s younger sister, Kate, said. “We watched the whole thing and my dad was yelling at her form through the computer. I was so proud of her because she was finally going to nationals and she was only a sophomore.”
Stauss and the Denison team were ranked No. 1 in Division III women’s swimming and diving and were fighting for the chance at their first national title in 19 years. However, the meet was canceled three days beforehand due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It was such a defining moment for me because even though we didn’t get the banner, I knew that I was part of something so important and our team will get it one day,” Stauss said. “It really has lit a fire in me that with all the hard work and grit we had last year, we can literally do anything.”
Heading into her junior year at Denison, Stauss will look to feed off her All-American and national qualifying sophomore season and hopefully perform some acrobatics at the diving well. She can thank her dad for helping with that discovery.
Following that uncovering of diving as a sport, Stauss was ready to go. She went on to compete in AAU and USA programs at Atkinson Pool in Sudbury and even competed nationally. Nine years after that day at the pool, Stauss was named an All-American in her junior season diving at Hopkinton High. Prior to that, she had been an All-American consideration every year as she was a two-time South/Central sectional diving champion and owns the Tri Valley League record for 11 dives with a score of 533.40.
She was also named a TVL All-Star all four years of high school.
“Growing up with Mattie when it came to diving was easy and hard,” said Kate, a 2019 Hopkinton High grad and herself a Denison sophomore. They also have an older brother, Jack. “When we were getting ready for dinner, she was practicing the movements and her approach and just constantly seeing how high she could jump. Diving really is her life.”
“It makes me super proud,” Jim said. “She works really hard at this sport.”
Along with her success on the boards, Stauss has been accompanied by a few superstitions.
The night before championship meets, she writes down every dive she is going to do in order and three words that are good for her to remember.
“I make sure to look at the note card before walking up behind the board,” Stauss said. “I have done this every year with my dad, who was one of my coaches for the majority of my career.”
With her father still by her side continuing to help out and her sister also at Denison University, Mattie Stauss is primed for more success in the diving well with a lot of support.