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Old 06-23-2016, 07:00 PM   #1
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Road2Rio: Andy Cerota's Olympics Blog

KPRC 2 reporter Andy Cerota is covering the U.S. Olympic trials and the Rio Summer Olympics. Read below about his journey, adventures and covering the incredible athletes.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

As journalists, we all have our firsts in our career. Covering our first crime scene, first school board meeting or city council meeting, first election. You get the point.

Even after more than two decades in the business, I'm still experiencing my firsts. That's what's so awesome about my job! This assignment, covering the Olympic diving trials in Indianapolis, is a first for me, along with the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.

I've been on the ground in Indy for a few hours, gathering elements for our broadcast and digital content and in that time I've had the opportunity to gain some insight into the diving community. In part, thanks to Kassidy Cook, a graduate of The Woodlands High School. I met her and her coach, Kenny Armstrong, a three time Olympic diver, back in February.

Cook is poised to make it to the road to Rio. She is at the top spot after the semi-finals. I watched in awe as she and scores of other divers, both men and women, practiced inside the IUPUI Natatorium.

I'm pretty sure I had the best seat in the house. While watching them it became obvious, sure they're competing against one another but yet they are the best of friends. In fact, Cook admitted some of her competitors are her closest friends.

She's 21 years old and has known many of them half of her life. They don't root against each other. It's not about that. They want each other to dive well. Nobody wants to see anyone mess up.

As confident as these competitors appear to be, adrenaline and in some cases, anxiety, can get in the way of them achieving their goals. The athletes aren't afraid to talk about that. Armstrong's advice to Cook is nothing short of profound: shift the mind and allow yourself to embrace the cameras and the glare of publicity along with the enthusiasm from the crowds. Don't shut it out. Have fun with it.

His message had clearly gotten through to Cook because she was all smiles and seemed very relaxed when I sat down with her for our interview after practice Thursday afternoon.

I'm looking forward to learning more about Cook and the support network she relies on during fierce competitions, like the trials. Of course, I'm talking about her family. Her face lit up when she started talking about them. Cook is going to introduce me to her mom Friday and the rest of her family arrives here on Saturday so stay tuned!

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