The best part of making the diving Olympic team for Michael Hixon was being able to celebrate with his mom afterwards.“So much of this moment now is because of her,” he said. “We’ve put so much into the sport together…I can’t thank her enough for everything she’s done for me, and I certainly wouldn’t be anywhere close to where I am now — wouldn’t be sitting in this chair going to the Olympics if she hadn’t sacrificed so much for me.”
He made the Olympic team in both the individual and synchronized 3-meter springboard, joining the likes of veterans David Boudia and Kristian Ipsen.
Hixon, 20, started diving when he was 7, and many of his early memories of the sport involve diving with his mom.
“My favorite part was how hard we trained,” he said. “When I was with her, we’d be in the pool, and it was just us… It was pretty special.”
They had times where they would get upset with each other, of course—after all, every 16-year-old boy is a little frustrating for their mom, Hixon said, and vice versa—but he calls his mom a fantastic coach.
Mandy Hixon has been a coach at the University of Massachusetts for 15 years, and she said it wasn’t hard to separate being mom and being coach.
“We made a deal that when he was in the pool, I was [his] coach, and when he was home, I was mom,” Mandy said. “We tried to separate it. Sometimes the lines got blurred, but we tried to do best we could.”
But now, Mandy is a full-time mom.
She sits in the stands, anxiously watching Michael dive. She isn’t much of a cheerer, she said, but she’ll clap for Michael and hope for the best for him.
And being able to watch Michael make his dreams come true and become a member of the Olympic team was amazing, she said.
“It’s just kind of cool when you’re passionate about a sport, and you get to pass that on to one of your children,” Mandy said. “I knew how much it meant to him, and I’m so glad I got to be here to share it with him.”