Thomas Jefferson junior dives headfirst into 2-sport winter schedule


Sunday March 26, 2023 | 11:01 a.m

Addison Arndt literally dives head first into her winter sports schedule at Thomas Jefferson.

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

She qualified for the PIAA Finals in both sports and placed fourth at the WPIAL Class 2A Girls Diving Championships and 10th overall in the advanced division at the WPIAL Gymnastics Finals.

The TJ athlete placed 10th overall at this year’s Pennsylvania Classic and competed in the PIAA Class 2A Girls’ Diving Finals on March 15 in Bucknell.

Arndt practices her scuba diving techniques at South Park High School and works on her gymnastics routines at Premier Gym and Cheer. She has maintained this dual athletic schedule for 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. This is the highest and most competitive class in high school. It is a great honor and achievement to be at the highest level of gymnastics.

“Addie is always on the move when it comes to gymnastics and diving. There are a few times a week where she comes in for gymnastics training and leaves for scuba training.”

In season, Arndt’s after-school training time runs from 3:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. for gymnastics and 8:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. for diving. She is currently practicing her dives Monday through Thursday from 7am to 8:30am in South Park.

“Managing the time between the two sports is definitely a challenge, especially since they’re in the same season,” Arndt said. “But I do my best to stay organized and get things done in advance rather than procrastinating.

“I don’t have an official TJ dive coach. Since diving is a rather rare sport, suitable trainers are difficult to find. So I’m practicing at South Park High School, where I’m coached by Tiffany Melanie.”

Melanie, with the support of her sister Noelle, trains the South Park divers but teaches Arndt about the Bethel Park Aquatic Club.

“Addie is a very talented diver. She has very nice jumps and makes it look effortless,” said Melanie. “Addie has a lively personality. She also has such an urge to improve. She constantly wants feedback to learn how to improve her dives. It’s so great to work with her.

“Addie continues to improve and learn new dives each season.”

Arndt recently got her driver’s license, so her family’s exercise schedule became a little less hectic as she was able to drive to and from the surgeries.

“Yeah, with my driver’s license I can definitely have an easier schedule by just driving myself here and there,” said Arndt. “It also makes life easier for my parents.

“Actually, I just got my driver’s license. It’s my birthday in the summer, so I’ll get my driver’s license a little later than most of my classmates.”

Arndt finished the WPIAL Diving Championships on February 24 in North Allegheny with a career-best total score of 413.65 points. She was one of five girls with scores over 400. She also had the highest score among the 10 juniors in the competition.

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

Previously, on February 11, Arndt had a 35.4 overall score at the WPIAL Gymnastics Finals in Moon.

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

“Addie is very easygoing and hardworking,” Cumming said. “I am proud of all of their achievements in both of their sports. Her best event (in gymnastics) is the floor exercise; She is so powerful and fun to watch.”

Arndt placed fourth on beam and tenth all-around at the WPIALs in her sophomore season.

“To be honest, I don’t have a favorite sport because both are so similar and different in many ways,” said Arndt.

But she has a favorite event — the floor exercise — in gymnastics, and she said her favorite event was the balance beam.

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

“I’ve done quite a bit of gymnastics since I could walk, but never competed until I was 6 years old, on the USAG team. I had similar skills as a freshman and sophomore as I do now as a junior; However, my score improvements are definitely down to perfecting and narrowing down my form and consistency, which is what the judges really look for in a routine.

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

Arndt doesn’t limit her expertise to the pool and gym. She is a member of the National Honor Society with a 3.9 GPA and was a track and field athlete when she was a freshman at TJ.

“Unfortunately, due to the extended dive season, I’ve had to stop participating in the track since the states doesn’t take place until the end of March,” Arndt said. “I’d love to still do it, but with all the practice, I don’t think I’d be able to do both as well as I can.”

Athleticism seems to be a family trait.

Arndt’s younger sister, Delaney, is in the eighth grade and is a triple athlete. She competes in cross country skiing, swimming and track and field.

And Arndt, the older sister, said the biggest influence on her athletic career was 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 with Baldwin and on a scholarship with Carlow. In 1996 she graduated from Baldwin.

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