Teri Downs fought hard to keep her emotions in check as she boarded a plane in July to visit Orlando, Florida with the loved ones of Olympic competitors.
Her son Tyler Downs (LSS ’21), then 18 years old, was halfway around the world, in Tokyo, getting ready to graduate.
T. Downs Olympic Games Tokyo 2020
Tyler’s agility earned him a spot on Team USA’s 3-meter springboard board, while Teri would only be a few hours away from her own home. He was now a part of the Olympic history that would be made in 2020.
When Tyler was five years old,
He began diving with a local rec league in his hometown of Ballwin, Missouri. His coach recognised potential in Tyler because he had trained with the national team in Indianapolis and was friends with Coach John Winfield.
He joined a more serious dive team in St. Louis, Missouri, close to his family’s home, when he was 10 years old. A short time later, at the age of 13, his parents agreed to let him relocate to Fishers, Indiana, to train alongside the other young, aspiring Olympians under Coach Winfield.
Tyler’s mom recalls the family discussions that led up to the decision, and how they emphasised that this was a chance to try out the arrangement for training, but that it was not a permanent separation. At any point, he was welcome to return home.
Donnie Downs, Tyler’s father and a train engineer for Union Pacific Railroad, knew it would be difficult to deal with Tyler’s absence while he was training, but he supported his son by telling him to “put your goals high, and your ambitions higher and don’t stop until you get there.”
Tyler did quite well in Fishers.
While his mother made the long trip back and forth from their home in Missouri, he stayed, competed, and lived with host families. Teri continued to be a mother to Tyler’s six other siblings, a grandmother to her grandchildren, and a wife to Donnie while she was away.
The previous four years have been trying for her in many ways, as she has had to watch her son from afar, divide her time between her many family members, and keep her relationships alive with the use of technology like Zoom and FaceTime.
Teri and Donnie have seen Tyler struggle to achieve his goal of becoming a diver, but they know it has been worth it.
Tyler Downs’s Reasons for Choosing Laurel Springs
Like most people, Tyler’s educational journey began in a traditional public school building. After Tyler finished eighth grade, his parents decided they needed to find a new approach to Tyler’s schooling so that he could continue training while also attending classes.
Teri learned that one of Tyler’s teammates went to Laurel Springs School, a private, online institution that serves students in grades K-12. After doing their homework and consulting with an enrollment counsellor, Tyler’s parents determined that this was the best option for their son’s future education.
A few years later, Tyler’s parents found an educational option that was not only rigorous but also accommodating to their son’s hectic schedule. They discovered a group that would follow Tyler all the way to the Olympic Village and cheer him on at diving competitions in the USA, Canada, Cuba, the Ukraine, Chile, Japan, and China.
As We Peer Into The Future
To further his education, Tyler enrolled at Purdue. Tyler will practise under assistant coach David Boudia, whom he both admires and beat in the U.S. Olympic Trials, so that he can dive for the university team and qualify for the Olympics.
Since his own chiropractor has had such a significant influence on his success as a student-athlete, he has decided to concentrate on pre-chiropractic studies.
Because of the self-paced nature of the curriculum at LSS, Tyler will be well-prepared for the demands of higher education in terms of his time management abilities. When students, and especially student-athletes, are prepared with these abilities, the transition from high school to college is considerably easier.
Work Eternal: A Craftsman’s Dedication
For Tyler, determination is nothing new. Teri’s other children played sports on the rec and varsity levels, like track and softball, but she knew Tyler’s “incessant drive” would lead him to dive more, not less, in the future.
Teri has recognised her determined son’s need to strike a balance between his passion for diving and his other interests and pursuits as a teenager. Sometimes this has required extended periods of time on the phone or in Zoom with Tyler, his host family, his LSS instructors, and his diving coach. Her ultimate objective as a parent is for her son to be well-rounded and ready for more than just the diving board.