Most student-athletes are recruited out of high school — scouts gain wind of their talents throughout their high school careers and athletes are eventually courted by a university’s recruiting department before committing to a program.
But sophomore diver Alison Gibson never attended high school.
Gibson was homeschooled her entire life, never attending a traditional public or private school. At a young age, Gibson enrolled in the Classical Christian Institute, a parent-run homeschool organization in Austin that met just once a week.
“It was sort of in a school environment, but it was more of a small, tight-knit community,” Gibson said.
While her parents felt this was the best choice for her education, Gibson was deprived of athletic opportunities students who attend a traditional institution are given.
“I really liked homeschooling because of the one-on-one attention I could get,” Gibson said. “I feel like that really helped me learn a lot. I’m a very connection-driven person.”
But Gibson wouldn’t let a lack of athletic opportunities hold her back from anything.
An energetic, excited and competitive kid, Gibson made her own opportunities throughout her childhood, swimming for Longhorn Aquatics and continually finding herself at the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center at the University of Texas.
“I started training there when I was seven, turning eight,” Gibson said. “I was just this little kid who would talk to everybody. I was fearless.”
One person who took notice of Gibson was Texas diving coach Matt Scoggin.
“I would come to diving workouts at 6:15 a.m., and she was already in the pool swimming as an age group swimmer for Longhorn Aquatics,” Scoggin said. “She was never in second place. I saw how competitive she was.”
Scoggin convinced her to try her hand on the diving boards one Friday night, and the rest was history.
“(Diving) always intrigued me,” Gibson said. “I tried it on that Friday night, and I fell in love with it instantly. Eventually it took over my life.”
As a student, Gibson seemed hungry for success regardless of the environment she was in.
Patti Wendlandt, a former teacher of Gibson at Classical Christian Institute, praised Gibson’s academic efforts, despite the “intense” and “rigorous” curriculum.
“She would have to miss some weeks to be in South America for a meet and come back without skipping a beat,” Wendlandt said. “She pursued excellence.”
Gibson became the epitome of a student-athlete as a homeschooled student. Her excellence in the classroom put her on track to meet high school graduation requirements at 16 and begin college at 17.
Thanks to their relationship, Scoggin knew that Gibson would be ready to enroll early, and the Longhorns recruited her before most other universities were aware of her status.
“(Matt) really did his homework and made sure he got me,” Gibson said.
Gibson went on to make a splash with USA Diving, winning three junior national championships and competing in numerous international meets. She placed sixth at the 2016 Olympic Diving Trials, narrowly missing the cutoff for the Rio Olympics.
“Her work ethic is ideal,” Scoggin said. “She shows up early. She doesn’t waste any time. She’ll stay late, and her work ethic is just a great example of what it takes to succeed at a very high level.”
Gibson aspires to make the 2020 Olympic team, and she exudes confidence in her abilities. Her dream of being an Olympian may one day become a reality.
“Her potential really is unlimited,” Scoggin said. “With the strength she has and the strength she is gaining, and with her gifts of artistic beauty and the last combination of being resilient and hard-working, there’s really no limit.”