Diver Van Dijkhuizen undecided


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Last-minute decisions usually aren’t the best ones.

Two weeks before the 2006 school year, Iowa senior diver Frank Van Dijkhuizen still hadn’t made up his mind on what he wanted to do. Ultimately, he left the Netherlands for Iowa.

“I just packed my bags and went off to college,” he said. “I had no idea whatsoever, but it was one of the best decisions I made in my life.”

Arriving in Iowa from Amsterdam, Van Dijkhuizen knew things were going to be different.

Living in the dorms his freshman year, he loved the social aspect. But it didn’t remind him of home.

“My coach back home went to college in Nebraska. He told me a little bit about it, but I wasn’t sure what to expect,” he said. “I never did my laundry back home. I didn’t have to cook for myself. Now, I do all that stuff.”

During his journey as a Hawkeye, Van Dijkhuizen has found friends. Fellow senior diver Michael Gilligan and Van Dijkhuizen formed a formidable one-two combination this season and helped lead the Iowa men’s swimming and diving team to a 10-1 regular-season record.

Gilligan and Van Dijkhuizen share more than just the team, though. During the holidays, Van Dijkhuizen always has a place to go.

“He came to my house for Thanksgiving,” Gilligan said. “He knows my family. I know his family. They’ve stayed at our place before. Whenever he has family or friends in town, we always hang out and do things together.”

With the season and semester both winding down, however, difficult decisions await Van Dijkhuizen.

After March, his athletics eligibility will be depleted, and he still has one semester left in business school. But after that, he doesn’t know what he is going to do.

“My family back home is really pulling me to get back,” he said. “The only thing is if I stay here, I maybe want to go somewhere a little warmer. But I’d have to start all over again. That’s the major thing holding me back from doing that. If I go back home, I’d have everything lined up for me, so it’s kind of the adventure, I guess.”

Iowa diving coach Bob Rydze has seen several talented divers during his 35-year tenure. While Van Dijkhuizen doesn’t possess the accolades of previous pupils, he has been an important part of the team, Rydze said.

“He came in and has won a lot of important meets for us,” he said. “Being from the Netherlands and his culture has been very good for the rest of the divers. We’ve learned a little bit more about the Netherlands.

“I think he’s become a more mature and a lot more responsible, and that’s a good thing. But I hope all my divers do as they get older.”

Throughout his career, Van Dijkhuizen has dealt with various injuries. Recently, a back injury has forced him to be more careful in the water — not an easy feat considering he is trying to accomplish his ultimate goal: winning a NCAA championship.

“I still haven’t made it to NCAAs, which is still a big step I want to make,” he said. “I’m still on the injury list right now, but I’m trying to work that out. The Big Tens are going to be a big step. The main focus is going to be to accomplish that last goal.”

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