By Katharine Morgan Contributing Writer
---- — Aaron Idelson and Catherine Borgstrom started diving together when they were beginning junior high. In June, they will graduate as reigning Section Three, Class C champions and arguably the best divers in Cooperstown history.
Borgstrom started in gymnastics young, and upon moving to Cooperstown with her family, she transferred those early skills into diving.
She persuaded Idelson, her friend and classmate, to suit up for the board as well.
“Catherine told me how much fun diving camp was so I decided to give it a try, I wasn’t that serious about it. Mostly, I loved the camp,” Idelson said.
Both agree it was their times together, diving at the Clark Sport Center, that sealed the deal for their six-year commitment. In addition to their time at the Clark, Idelson and Borgstrom credited Hartwick College’s diving camp as a big part of their success and also helped form their friendship.
Ironically, one of Idelson’s camp roommates was Sherburne-Earlville’s Ethan Kurth, his biggest area rival in during his diving career. The two have competed throughout high school and remain good friends, Idelson said, although he beat Kurth for both the Frontier League and section title this year.
Their local coaching was important too, they said, giving credit to CCS boys coach Cheryl Rock and girls coach Katy Haseley. Neither CCS coach was a diver themselves, but both coaches encouraged the Idelson and Borgstrom to seek out help from diving coach Ann Burgin at Hartwick College when they could.
“We have a sort of weekly ‘club’,” said Idelson, “which has been very important to our competing.”
Added Borgstrom: “Because of our event, we aren’t necessarily pushed from within our ranks. We have to go outside to get competition.”
In duel meets the past few years, success on the board has given the Cooperstown almost automatic points. Those points will be missing next year, and perhaps for several years to come as there are no new divers coming up in the program.
Idelson, Borgstrom and their coaches have all expressed disappointment in the lack of development of new divers, but the two champions are trying to rectify that scarcity before they leave CCS.
To that end, Idelson, Borgstrom and Haseley, along with the support of the Clark Sports Center are working towards establishing a diving club, starting mid-March, and also summer diving camp, slated to start July 21, although solid details for both will be announced later.
The two students will work with Haseley to encourage and instruct young divers in the area.
“We obviously got our start diving young, but a club hasn’t existed for years. This would help future teams in our school, definitely,” said Idelson.
Beyond their diving achievements, Idelson and Borgstrom will be missed next year for their scholastic accomplishments and community involvement, according to their coaches.
“Aaron is a real personality and leader on the team,” Rock said. “He works extremely hard. He ended up competing with 11 dives. That’s no small feat. I’m not a diver, but he has taught me things. It’s what I want, as a coach. A student who is teaching me.
“You see Aaron all over in this community, pitching in with various causes, always participating,” she continued.
Idelson was also a member of the Honor Society, and last fall played varsity football for the first time.
“It was my Senior Year and I wanted to do something different. It was an unforgettable experience,” Idelson said. “I got to know a lot of kids I never would have known otherwise.”
Idelson recognized that swim meets don’t get the turn-out that football games do, but said, “it’s the CCS swim teams that seem to end their seasons with the best records. (Catherine) and I winning the championships and our teams’ success is sort of like our redemption.”
Idelson plans to continue diving in college. He has been accepted to Tufts University in Boston and where has been recruited to join the school’s well-regarded diving team.
Rock said she expects to hear more about him in the future, as some sort of public figure or communtiy leader. “He is a born public speaker,” she said.
Borgstrom was also a member of the National Honor Society and is getting ready to play softball again this spring.
Unlike Idelson, who “was glad the season was over”, Borgstrom felt emotional during her last meet because she won’t be diving again. She said she is going to pursue a degree in industrial art and design, but has yet to select a school.
“I want to go somewhere warm, and sunny, where the skies are blue,” she said, with a laugh, noting that two schools are located in California, the other in Georgia.
Haseley said her team will miss Borgstrom’s leadership.
“Catherine was always focused, and determined,” she said. “She was a team leader with a desire to excel in her diving first, but also swimming. As a captain, Catherine pushed her teammates to achieve their best as well as encourage one another to pull together as a team.”
Their coaches also agree that both Idelson and Borgstrom exhibited a maturity and charisma beyond their years. “They will be missed throughout the community,” Haseley said. “They are the kind of students and athletes other kids look up to and respect.”