The United States will send more than 500 athletes to the Olympics this summer. Only a couple are household names. Most are people who, gifted in a sport, live regular lives into which they fit intense training. Amy Cozad, 25, is the reigning national champion in women’s 10-meter platform diving. She is also a recent college graduate with a degree in mathematics. Amy placed sixth in the world last year, and after she officially qualifies, she will head to Rio de Janeiro for her first Olympics. Her mom, Donna, who manages a restaurant in their Indiana hometown, helped give Amy the chance to go for the gold.
Real Simple: What do you think got Amy to where she is as a diver?
Donna Cozad: She works so hard and is so dedicated. She missed out on a lot in high school. She wasn’t going to parties like the other kids.
Amy Cozad: I got that [work ethic] from my mom. My parents split when I was really young. My mom sacrificed a lot and worked so hard to take care of us. [Sister Jenny is 26; brother Cayman is a freshman in high school.] She’s easily the hardest-working woman I know. I draw on her independence and her strength.
RS: Donna, how do you feel when you watch Amy at a meet?
D.C.: My heart sinks immediately whenever she walks to the end of that board. I am terribly afraid of heights. I’ve been up on there only once, and I got dizzy and sweaty. But then Amy is just so calm and nails it. I’ve never gotten used to how talented she is.
RS: Donna, your kids have worked for you at the restaurant, right?
D.C.: Yes, all three at some point. Amy worked there in the fall of 2014.
A. C.: I had moved to Tallahassee, Florida, with my boyfriend [now fiancé], Alex, to take a job as assistant [diving] coach at Florida State University. Then the head coach decided to take a job elsewhere. Ten months after moving to Florida, I was facing the decision of whether to find another job or become a professional diver. My mom let Alex and me move into her house and gave me the chance to work at the restaurant to bring in some income, so I could dive. If it weren’t for her, I don’t think I would have been able to get back to diving.
D.C.: That’s actually where we’ll be on Mother’s Day—at the restaurant. It’s our busiest day of the year, so I always have to work. Hopefully, the kids will be up there with me, taking a shift.
To learn more about all Olympic hopefuls, visit teamusa.org. The Olympics begin August 5.