That word can be found on a sticker in the locker of diver Drew Teer ’10. And for Teer, it serves as a constant reminder for him to not take anything for granted. He has consistently been a top performer in the 3-meter and 1-meter diving events for the Elis this season, including two third-place finishes in both events this past weekend against Brown.
But this success has not been easy for Teer.
After struggling for nearly two years with a major cartilage tear in his shoulder that required an operation, Teer had to sit out part of his freshman season and his entire sophomore season. Teer, who has been diving since he was six, said even a week without diving makes him antsy.
“It was hard to not be able to dive that long — just to sit there in practice and think there was a chance I could never dive again,” he said. “ I guess it’s in my blood.”
Teer, a four-time qualifier for the Arizona State Championships in high school and a four-time All-American and Academic All-American, was diagnosed with tendonitis in the middle of his freshman year at Yale. But upon further investigation, an MRI revealed that Teer had suffered a large cartilage tear and would have to take a break from diving.
“He probably took it harder than anybody else,” diving coach Ryan Moehnke said. “You don’t want him to sit out, but he did the right thing to get back on the boards and he came back stronger than ever.”
After many months of rehabilitation and pencil diving straight into the water without twisting and turning ,Teer was able to return to the diving boards for this year’s opening dual meet against Columbia on Nov. 15. In what would be an emotional day for Teer, he took second place in both the 3-meter and the 1-meter event.
“I almost started crying — it was a mental victory as much as it was physically to be able to get through the meet,” he said.
Just three months later, on Feb. 1, Teer notched his first collegiate win in the 3-meter at the Harvard-Yale-Princeton meet, a victory he described as humbling.
“I was so relieved,” he said. “I missed my last dive and I didn’t know where I was [in the standings]. I knew I was up there but I didn’t know where I would be.”
He added, “It was good to get one, especially at that big of a dual meet — it felt good.”
After rehabilitating his shoulder and being able to return to the diving board, Teer says that some positives have come out of not being able to dive for so long. Now, the Morse College resident tries to make every dive count.
“I think it’s made me a better competitor,” he said. “I don’t take things for granted as much anymore. Having sat out and watched for two years, I rediscovered a love for this sport.”
He added, “It’s something I look forward to every day and it’s more enjoyable because I know what it’s like to not have that in my life.”
His teammates have definitely taken notice.
“He’s a really good teammate because he’s made a big comeback this year,” fellow diver Eric Olson ’11 said. “There are few other people I know that would come back from that type of injury and compete at that high of a level.”
Still, Teer has a long way to go in recovering from his shoulder injury, saying that it still bothers him. But he says he is determined to return to the level he entered with as a freshman, in addition to making Moehnke’s list of top 25 divers, a tally he started when he began coaching at Yale in 2003.
Winning the Ivy League Championships is also one of Teer’s goals. “I think we all, this year included, have a legitimate shot at taking home a title,” he said.
And it is this determination that caught Moehnke’s eye in the recruiting process.
“Drew’s a great person, very determined,” he said. “In his diving he’s helpful towards others, he wants the team to actually be the best it can be, as well as his own diving.”
He concluded, “I knew that with his past accomplishments he was really good, and he knew what he wanted with the education that Yale offers. I saw all that determination so I thought he’d be a perfect fit for the team.”
As for life after Yale. Teer is not yet sure if he will continue diving due to his shoulder injury, but he says he might look to teaching for his next passion in life. His high school offers a one to two year teaching internship, which Teer says he definitely plans on considering.
“It would be something fun, and it would keep me close to home and help where I come from,” he said.