Brunswick diver Ty Talley took the area by storm last season by qualifying for the state meet in just his second year in the sport, but a return trip to Canton would’ve been hard for the most-accomplished veteran to fathom.
The senior rebounded from a broken ankle injury to his takeoff foot, forcing him to change his approach en route to an impressive postseason run that ended with another state berth.
It also earned him Gazette MVP in the sport.
“It wasn’t a question of, ‘Will I do this?’ or, ‘What if?’” Talley said. “It was more, ‘I will.’ I will succeed and overcome this road block.”
Talley did just that, becoming a two-time All-Ohioan.
It wasn’t easy, however, after the 17-year-old broke his right ankle in three different places during an early August football practice. It derailed any ideas of earning a spot on the podium.
“I don’t even know how it happened because it was from behind,” Talley said. “I was blocking on the outside and got hit. After one of my coaches helped me up off the ground, I was like, ‘Aw, that really hurts.’”
Brunswick swimming coach Erin Crabtree thought the worst.
“I didn’t know it happened, then (at school) he comes by my classroom hobbling on crutches,” she said. “At that point, (diving coach) Tim Croy didn’t know if he could even get back on the board. He would have to change everything.”
Talley spent a good portion of the next four months on crutches, then in a walking boot.
It wasn’t until the early weeks of November that he was officially cleared and able to do a walk through on the diving board.
“I had to learn how to walk and jump off the board all over again,” Talley said. “It was real awkward at first.
“But I just have to know in the back of mind that it was healed and I needed to fight through the pain.”
Indeed he did, as he slowly regained his strength, which was evident after Talley placed fifth at the Canton Christmas Invitational with a score of 400.65.
The 6-foot, 162-pounder followed three weeks later by finishing runner-up at the Northeast Ohio Conference Meet, earning MVP honors for the River Division.
“It was a process,” Crabtree said. “He could’ve flaked out and said, ‘I’m done,’ but he worked. He would practice anywhere from 6-8 hours on Saturdays to get back to where he was, because he had goals.”
Talley went on to take third at the Akron Division I North Sectional, runner-up at the Cleveland District — thanks to a season-best dive of 459.80 — and then placed eighth at the state meet.
He did it all with a new takeoff foot and approach, but with the same gritty determination he had a year ago.
“Coach Croy was so patient with me,” Talley said. “I don’t know how to toe point the best, but he kept telling me, ‘You know how to do this. You can do it.’
“I think it’s mind-blowing to make it back (to state). It was a huge obstacle to overcome, but it made me even stronger.”
Talley had a happy-go-lucky attitude his coaches and teammates grew to love. It wasn’t uncommon to see him dancing in the stands or singing along to his iPod.
“In previous years, I would get so caught up on being perfect. Nothing could be wrong,” he said. “This year, I didn’t want my emotions to get the best of me. I just wanted to have fun and joke around.”
Contact Dan Brown at email@example.com.