One of the greatest female divers in Lockport High School history will take her talents and impecable timing to the University of Akron.
Paige Kelkenberg, the daughter of Alan and Wendy Kelkenberg, signed a National Letter of Intent recently to attend Akron this fall on a swimming and scholastic scholarship.
Kelkenberg was accompanied in a brief ceremony in the LHS Library by her parents, as well as LHS diving coach Jasper Adams, Lady Lions lacrosse coach and mentor Todd Sukdolak and Lockport Athletics Director Patrick Burke.
“When she took a recruiting trip to Akron and got a good look at the program, she realized the timing was good,” Adams said. “Three of the Zips' divers will be seniors next year, so they'll be looking to rebuild the program.”
A product of Lockport's outstanding Flips Gymnastic and Sport, under the direction of Don and Shirley Beecher, Kelkenberg has been twisting and turning throughout her life. The transition from gymnastics to diving was a natural one, she said.
“I competed in gymnastics until the seventh grade and it's pretty much the same thing as diving,” Kelkenberg said. “The gymnastics experience definitely helped out a lot.”
Kelkenberg was a highly-regarded diver throughout her amazing six-year varsity career on the Lady Lions swim team and she found time to play lacrosse along the way as well. A three-time Niagara Frontier League and Section VI girls diving champion, Kelkenberg competed with distinction each year at the New York State meet, finishing 17th as a sophomore, 14th as a junior and second as a senior this past season.
Adams described her as one of the top four divers he's coached in 30 years, along with Kim May, Shana Dege and Jenn Puff.
“She was a Level 8 gymnast when I converted her,” Adams said, adding that Paige will be coached at Akron by someone he's familiar with, Chris Medvedeff, who is currently in his 15th season guiding Zips' divers — the only diving coach in school history.
“He's built one of the most competitive diving programs in the Mid-American Conference,” Adams said. “I've known Chris for quite a long time. When you let a kid go you've had for six years, you want to see that they're going to be in good hands. I'm very comfortable knowing that she's with someone who can take her to the next level.”
Paige said she will pursue a career in either marine biology or graphic design at Akron, which competes in the same conference as the University at Buffalo.
“I want to thank my mom and dad and all my coaches,” she said. “I want to be remembered as someone who was a leader and was dedicated — someone to look up to.”