When you first meet Chelsea Senior Lily Francisco you notice her smile, her positive attitude, and happy go lucky personality. But when the captain of the Chelsea Swim and Dive team stands on that diving board she’s a whole different person as she focuses mentally at the task at hand. She gets in a zone and she’s good at what she does and she loves it.
Lily has been diving since before the summer of 6th grade. She had done gymnastics for about 10 years before that and was also cheerleading. But there was just something that drew her to diving and she has never looked back.
“I wanted to try something new, something I could always learn and improve on,” said Lily reflecting on her decision to commit to diving. “I wanted a sport with new things I could always try and a sport I could never get bored with.”
Lily is always practicing, trying new things. And she enjoys what she does and has fun with it. She knows it’s a very tough sport and can be scary in many different ways standing on that board not knowing what could happen next.
“It can be terrifying up there,” explained Lily. “It can be very nerve-wracking. Some people don’t understand but other divers do. You have to be a little crazy to do this sport. But every time you get the new dive it’s like a giant weight lifted off your chest and it’s amazing!”
When Lily gets a bit nervous or fearful of a dive or when she notices someone feeling that way she has a little thing she came up with to help herself and others. She dances.
“For the past two years I’ve been telling the divers to “dance it off”, it’s my little thing,” explained Lily. “It’s like if you’re freaking out over a dive, you need a little distraction so you can get it out of your head. And dancing seems to help. All you need to do is dance. It doesn’t have to be pretty dancing, you could look like a total fool but it actually works. You dance until you’re ready and then you just go!”
With the choice of her sport though comes injuries and hardships and she knows it but works through it. In 2015 Lily had a bad bout of tendinitis in her knee but once she was feeling better she got right back on the board as soon as she could.
Lily likes to look back on her diving career and see how far she’s come. She knows that if she hadn’t challenged herself and conquered her fears she wouldn’t be the diver she is today. And all her hard work and dedication has paid off. In 2015 she went to the state finals which she states is her biggest accomplishment.
“It was an amazing experience being able to stand on the podium even though it was for 14th place,” Lily explained about going to the second day of states. “I was just so proud of everyone around me because we all have put in so much effort to get where we were and that makes me so happy. Plus I had made friends with many of the amazing divers and I was so happy for them because they truly deserved to be top in the state.”
Diving must be in the Francisco bloodline as her inspiration and the person she calls her biggest influence and role model, her older sister Wilhelmina, is also a diver. She now dives in college and Lily hopes to join her next year.
“I am so proud of my older sister Wilhelmina,” Lily happily states. “She has accomplished so much and has gone so far in diving. She pushes me to become a better diver and I am lucky to call her my sister!”
Lily does really well in school because she realizes as a student-athlete scholastics are a big part of her future. She is taking a health science (nursing) class and since this is her second year doing it, she gets to do an internship at a doctor’s office.
“I’m extremely lucky to have a program like this and to have been part of such a great community,” Lily states. “Plus to have amazing teachers is the best thing I could have ever.”
On Thursday night, the 20th, Lily will be honored along with the other seniors on the swim and dive team before their 6 o’clock meet against Tecumseh. Taylor Brodbeck (captain), Katy Dickinson (captain), Clara Nelsen, and Molly Olk will all receive their recognition as seniors and all they have accomplished in their prestigious careers.
“I’m so proud of all my teammates and my team,” Lily said. “They all mean so much to me and the team is just going to keep getting better. We have such a great coaching staff, all the coaches I’ve had have been amazing. They push me to be a better person and a better diver. Coach Burris and Coach Kristy are both phenomenal coaches and I wouldn’t be to the level that I am today without them.”
Lily has a lot of support with her team and friends but also from her family too. Todd Francisco (dad), sister Wilhemina, Marie Vollmer (mom), Ron Vollmer (Stepdad), and her biggest yet tiniest fans, her twin sisters Els & Delanie Vollmer. Her twin sisters look up to Lily and love watching her and will cheer for her.
Lily hopes to go states again this year. She hopes to dive at Saginaw Valley State University next year and attend school for a nursing degree. In the springtime, Lily will be out on the track competing and excelling in the throwing competitions for Chelsea Track and Field. She will also be practicing her dives and trying to learn new ones in her free time.
“I don’t like taking breaks from this sport,” sad Lily. “Seriously, diving is my life!”