Monthly Archives: February 2017

Jigsaw Puzzles and Championship Teams

Coach Graham’s Giving Day message is clear on the needs of the program.  And the need is NOW because the Horizon League Championships will return to The Robert F. Busbey Natatorium next year.   By donating during Giving Day 2017 you will enable our team to purchase needed equipment this year and have it installed for next season. Recruits will see it, and our team can use it in preparation for HLC 2018.  Thanks, and here’s Coach Paul’s Giving Day Message:

Championship swimming and diving programs are a lot like jigsaw puzzles – there are many pieces of varying shapes and sizes that must come together to form the perfect picture!  Talented athletes, dedicated coaches and staff, supportive family and friends, outstanding facilities are but a few of those necessary pieces.

I am writing today to talk of a very important component to championship teams…….EQUIPMENT! 

Over the past few years, I have become a BIG believer in the “power” of power training.  There are many ways to accomplish this, but the best is with the “Power Tower”.  This amazing piece of equipment (click to see it in action) allows two athletes to simultaneously swim a training session.  We were using two towers for years and recently bought three more.  Even with a total of five towers, the coaches struggle to get all athletes thru during a week’s cycle of training.  I would to see CSU with a total of ten towers.  This would allow a whole training group to complete a workout at the same time , saving the coaches valuable time to train other important aspects.

In addition to the “Power Towers”, we are looking to buy two diving boards and backstroke wedges for 10 starting blocks.  Diving boards were last purchased in 2010, with a projected life of 4-5 years.  Given the strength of today’s athletes we’re behind in our ability to provide championship capabilities – we really need new boards!  Backstroke wedges are a brand new item that has made an appearance in the last few years.  This simple piece of equipment allows for a much more stable area for the backstroker to perform their start. 

All of these items will allow your “Vikings” to train and perform at the highest level.  Your generous donation will go towards making this happen.  Please donate on CSU Giving Day and help us strive for the top of the Horizon League…………and BEYOND!

Thank You,  Coach Paul Graham

Getting on Board with Sammie Sposet

You’ve heard the saying “diving catch in the end zone”.  As we neared production time for the Heritage Graphics in 2015 we realized the diving photos were stock art – Not Good.  Sammie Sposet and Danny Roberts agreed to “model” for us, and thanks to their dedication (sounds easy – couple of dives, snap snap and done – IT WAS NOT) we have the diving photos next to Bob and Wally.  Thanks and a tip-of-the-hat for their “catchy diving in the deep zone”.  Here are Sammie’s thoughts on CSU Giving Day, 2017:

To all Viking Alumni and Friends,

sammy-pike IMG_3774My name is Sammie Sposet, a former diver for Cleveland State University.  I am reaching out to you as a recent graduate to help give back to the swimming and diving community at Cleveland State during Giving Day 2017.  I whole-heartedly believe that your money will be going toward facility updates and equipment that will help engage athletes, push them toward higher goals and make their memorable experience on the team that much more incredible.

Each sport has equipment and amenities that make it unique and that aid to the quality of the athlete’s performance.  To most, a pool is a pool and a diving board is a board; if you brag to a softball player about having one of the fastest pools in the country, they may not fully appreciate how phenomenal that is.  Tennis players have a tangible racket that “feels right in their hand” or “weighs just the right amount” to start their set off with an ace.  Softball and baseball players have bats that fit in their hands properly, bases that are stable and fields that are not only aesthetically pleasing but allow for level ground and quick movement. 

Here in the pool, swimmers and divers have their starting blocks, their diving boards and their water- all of which may not have a visible “perfect fit” but they make a significant difference in performance.  Before attending Cleveland State University as a Division I NCAA athlete, I participated in club diving at The Robert Busbey Natatorium and fell in love with the facility.  Not only was the pool always well maintained, I continuously watched staff and coaches attempt to make improvements and better the program. 

Here is where you come in.  With any donations you are able to provide, CSU’s swimming and diving program will be able to uphold the legacy of an outstanding facility.  Your gracious donation will be used to purchase new starting equipment, training equipment, diving platform re-surfacing and (my personal favorite) new diving boards! 

New diving boards are no small triumph; without quality boards to train on, it is difficult to become an excellent diver.  Just as other athletes appreciate the grip of their instrument, I appreciate the grip and “ride” of a good board.  

One of the somewhat unsettling aspect to diving is that if you do not perform your tricks correctly you could be seriously injured.  Having beautiful, strong, reliable boards is something that can give a diver a sense of peace, comfort and additional confidence in their dives.  Imagine diving as a similar experience to a Cedar Point trip. When riding on the Mean Streak you are tossed side to side and jarred up and down which makes the experience unpleasant and mildly frightening. 

Diving on old boards is similar to such an experience in that less focus goes into the dive and more into making sure the board doesn’t wiggle around or collapse under you.  I have competed at various facilities with “Mean Streak” level equipment in which prohibited me from competing to the level I am capable.  There are a few pools in our conference in which coaching staff recommends that you not do your most difficult dives so you are not injured in the process.  I am fortunate enough to have been able to train on great boards, and hope that many to come will have the same privilege.

sammy-tuck IMG_3755As an additional benefit, these boards create an attraction for other club teams looking to rent out our diving facilities.  With more club diving teams drawn to CSU, more divers flock to the sport and our community.  By creating this attraction, you are indirectly helping to recruit new divers while building legacy within these pool gutters.  High school swimmers and divers will look forward to district competitions, just as I did, in the fastest pool with the greatest boards and one of the only tower facilities around. And with Rich Karban, a diving coach dedicated to not only developing diving skills, but more importantly instilling skills to help realize solutions to life challenges long after leaving the pool. 

This equipment has many positives and I hope that you will participate in giving day 2017 to support our team as they prepare for the next Horizon League Championship which will be right here in the Busbey Pool. 

I personally look forward to giving back and supporting the generations to come. As JFK once said, “My fellow CSU alumni, family and friends, ask not what you can do for your pool, but what your pool can do for you” … or maybe that was me. 🙂

With Love,
Sammie Sposet


Smolinski Scholarship “Thank You’s” from Tori and Curtis

The first-ever Tom Smolinski  Diving Scholarship was awarded to Tori Taffner and Curtis Roden on  January 31st, 2017 at The Robert F. Busbey Natatorium.  We all owe Kim Smolinski and her family a big “GO VIKES” and Thank You for this support of our team.  Here are thank yous from Tori and Curtis:

To everyone who donated, and those considering donating, I want to say thank you.

Tori TaffnerI am beyond appreciative to have been able to receive the first “Tom Smolinski” diving scholarship in my final year at Cleveland State University. Your contribution has allowed me to focus on my studies in my final semester rather than worrying about the financial side.

The diving community has always been a close one; I have never been to a meet where I was not able to have a conversation and get along with other divers. It has been an honor to be awarded with this scholarship as it has been named after a great man. I look forward to the future of this wonderful diving program, I know it will only improve.

This is a scholarship that will allow for the divers who come here to be able to focus more on their diving and to carry on the legacy of Mr. Smolinski. That is why I will forever be thankful for your contribution.

Thank you, Tori Taffner


To all who contributed to the “Tom Smolinski” diving scholarship

Curtis RodenI wanted to take some time to write a letter expressing my appreciation for your generosity for making this scholarship possible. I am extremely honored to be one of the first recipients of this scholarship, in the name of such an inspiring man.

Allow me take a moment to introduce myself so you can know where your money is going. I am a pre physical therapy major, with a minor in psychology and working towards a certificate in gerontology. As you may know, this degree requires a doctorate, so any assistance financially, aids a great deal by taking part of the weight off my shoulders, and allowing me to focus more on excellence in academics and diving.

Finally, I understand there are fundraisers designed to build up Tom’s scholarship. I would love to take part in these to increase funds so it will have an even greater impact on future recipients. I know that this scholarship has a bright future in helping many others like myself achieve their goals in furthering their education.

Kindest regards, Curtis Roden

Power Training Pays Off

Yesterday the CSU women’s and men’s relay teams set two new school records at the Horizon League Championship meet at UIC in Chicago.  Read details HERE. Conditioning plays a huge part in sprinters’ performance, and today’s guest blog features thoughts from Senior Robert Tolson.

Dear Donors and Alumni,

Over the past 4 years I have had an uncountable amount of experiences thanks to the Swimming and Diving Team at Cleveland State. Many of these experiences have been made possible because of generous donors and alumni such as yourself.

During my career at CSU, I have seen a lot of change in the pool, training, equipment, and coaching staff. The Robert F. Busbey Natatorium has transformed from a dull outdated pool into a tribute to the past, present and future of the CSU Swimming and Diving Program. This was a great addition to the program and truly embodies who we are and what connects each and every one of us.

Beyond the aesthetics of the Natatorium, there have been several performance and equipment upgrades at the Robert F. Busbey Natatorium. The blocks have been resurfaced and upgraded to fit back plates so every swimmer that competes at our pool has the opportunity to swim their best.

The one piece of equipment that has transformed my swimming ability over my time at CSU has been the Power Towers. As a sprinter, strength and power is a vital component of my training. When I first started swimming at CSU the team was limited to 2 very old power racks that did not function properly. They would break halfway through a set and leave the swimmers at odds. Over the next 3 years 5 Power Towers have been added to our arsenal and they have been worked very hard. Unfortunately, this still leaves the 3 coaches juggling time with the still limited number of Power Towers.

Thank you for your support of the Cleveland State Swimming and Diving Team and we hope you will be able to contribute this giving day!


Robert Tolson