Thomas Jefferson junior dives headfirst into 2-sport winter schedule

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Sunday, March 26, 2023 | 11:01 AM


Addison Arndt literally dives headfirst into her winter athletic schedule at Thomas Jefferson.

Arndt, a junior, competes as a diver on the TJ girls swim team and as an advanced gymnast as a member of the gymnastics team.

She qualified for the PIAA finals in both sports, placing fourth in the WPIAL Class 2A girls diving championships and 10th all-around in the advanced division at the WPIAL gymnastics finals.

The TJ athlete placed 10th all-around at this year’s Pennsylvania Classic and participated in the PIAA Class 2A girls diving finals March 15 at Bucknell.

Arndt practices her diving techniques at South Park High School and works on her gymnastics routines at Premier Gym and Cheer. She has maintained that dual-sport schedule all three years of high school.

“Addie is a dedicated athlete. She’s always working hard and trying to improve her skills,” said Jodi Cummings, who coaches both the TJ and Baldwin gymnasts. “Addie is in the diamond (advanced) division for gymnastics. That is the highest and most competitive division in high school. That’s a huge honor and accomplishment to be in the highest level of high school gymnastics.

“Addie is always on the go with gymnastics and diving. There are quite a few times a week where she comes to gymnastics practice and leaves and goes to diving practices.”

In season, Arndt’s practice time runs after school from 3 to 5:30 for gymnastics and 8 to 9:30 for diving. She currently practices her dives Monday to Thursday, 7 to 8:30, at South Park.

“Managing the time between both sports is definitely challenging, especially since they are in the same season,” Arndt said. “But I do my best to stay organized and get things done ahead of time rather than procrastinate.

“I do not have an official TJ diving coach. Due to diving being a somewhat rare sport, eligible coaches are hard to find. So, I practice at South Park High School, where I’m coached by Tiffany Melanie.”

Melanie, with assistance from her sister Noelle, coaches the South Park divers but instructs Arndt through the Bethel Park Aquatic Club.

“Addie is a very talented diver. She has very pretty dives and makes it look effortless,” Melanie said. “Addie has a bubbly personality. She also has such a drive to improve. She constantly wants feedback to learn how to make her dives better. She is so great to work with.

“Addie continues to improve and learns new dives every season.”

Arndt recently received her driver’s license, so her practice schedule became a little less frenzied for her family when she was able to drive to and from practices.

“Yes, having my license definitely enables me to have an easier schedule by just driving myself here and there,” Arndt said. “It also makes my parents’ lives easier.

“I actually just received my license. I have a summer birthday, so I get my license a little later than most of my peers in my grade.”

Arndt finished with a career-best 413.65-point total at the WPIAL diving championships Feb. 24 at North Allegheny. She was one of five girls with scores above 400. She also posted the highest score among the 10 juniors at the competition.

“It was my PR and it also accelerated the school record again,” she said.

Previously, on Feb. 11, Arndt logged a 35.4 all-around score at the WPIAL gymnastics finals at Moon.

She placed ninth on the beam and vault with 9.075 and 9.0 scores, 10th on floor (9.125) and 14th on bars (8.2).

“Addie is very easy going and hard working,” Cumming said. “I am proud of all of her accomplishments in both of her sports. Her best event (in gymnastics) is the floor exercise; she’s so powerful and fun to watch.”

Arndt captured fourth place on the beam and 10th all-around at WPIALs in her sophomore season.

“I honestly do not have a favorite sport because both are so similar and different in many ways,” Arndt said.

But she does have a favorite event — the floor exercise — in gymnastics, and she said her best event is the balance beam.

“Floor is my favorite because it really shows your personality,” Arndt said, “and you get to choose your own music, which says a lot about someone and it’s a fun time to just perform.

“I have done gymnastics pretty much since I could walk but never competed until I was 6 years old on the USAG team. I actually had similar skills as a freshman and sophomore as I do now as a junior; however, my score improvements are definitely from perfecting my form, my consistency and narrowing down what the judges are truly looking for in a routine.

“As for diving, I was first introduced to the sport when I was around 8 but never competed until my freshman season.”

Arndt doesn’t limit her know-how to the pool and gym. She is a member of the National Honor Society with a 3.9 GPA, and she also was a track athlete as a freshman at TJ.

“I unfortunately had to stop competing in track due to the prolonged diving season since states is not held until the end of March,” Arndt said. “I would love to still be doing it, but with all of the practices, I don’t think i would be able to manage both to my best ability.”

Athleticism appears to be a family trait.

Arndt’s younger sister, Delaney, is in eighth grade and is a three-sport athlete. She competes in cross country, swimming and track.

And Arndt, the older sister, said the biggest influence in her athletic career has been her mother, Melissa.

“It would absolutely be my mom,” she said. “She always gives me the right advice at the right time.”

Arndt’s mother, whose maiden name is Ziegler, competed in volleyball at Baldwin and on scholarship at Carlow. She graduated from Baldwin in 1996.

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