Casey Allaire is still receiving awards for the impressive work she did as a student-athlete, even though her competitive diving days are behind her.
After a successful high school career at Bishop Stang, the Mattapoisett native took her talents to Plymouth State University in New Hampshire. After she was named the Little East Conference’s Rookie Diver of the Year for the 2016-17 academic year, Allaire was named the LEC Diver of the Year in the ensuing three campaigns.
Outside of the pool, Allaire maintained a 3.92 grade-point average in the classroom and devoted time to the Believe in Books Literacy Foundation and Best Buddies, the latter of which she became the treasurer for Plymouth State’s chapter.
Now, Allaire didn’t maximize on her time at Plymouth State so she could receive recognition for it, but she did so much it was hard for the athletic department to ignore when selecting her as the Panthers’ nominee for 2020 LEC Woman of the Year — which she won.
In addition to the conference award, Allaire is now one of the select women across the country who is up for the 2020 NCAA Woman of the Year award. But she won’t compete solely against fellow Division III seniors. This is an honor that goes one female senior across all divisions.
“It definitely feels different,” Allaire said, “because, if you think about all the different divisions, Division II and Division I are so different from Division III. Those athletes are probably so amazing so it’s really cool to be considered with all of them.
“I know they’re looking for someone who’s more well-rounded. I don’t know, it’d be cool if someone from Division III could (win the national award).”
For Allaire, the league award did serve as validation for all the hard work she put forth at Plymouth State — even though she doesn’t necessarily view her community service work as a sacrifice of her time.
She credits her late Plymouth State diving coach, Alan Switzer, for helping her develop as much as she did over her four years at college. To receive an honor — and be up for another — that’s based on more than just her accomplishments as an athlete, it indicates she learned as much as she could from her mentor.
“In November, (Switzer) had to move to Colorado to be close with his family,” Allaire said of the legendary coach who spent two decades building the University of Maine swimming and diving program before moving to New Hampshire in 1990 and making a similar impact at Plymouth State. “When we went back, I was coached on FaceTime by him; we did a video stream. It was definitely different, but it took a lot of dedication, I think, to want to go to the pool every day and get coached that way. It was different, it was difficult. We even did that at the championship meet. We set up our little tripod and he watched all my dives. I went up to him, had my headphones on so I could hear him because it was really loud (at the tournament).
“It shows how dedicated he was to even consider doing that… He really wanted to finish out the four years with me, and I wanted him to, too. I was last diver ever. It was just really cool.”
Switzer passed away in May at age 90.
Allaire will learn the results of the NCAA Women of the Year award on November 1. The NCAA will also reveal its Top-30 women who are up for the honor on that day. Of those 30, 10 will be from Division III. Three finalists will then be selected from each division, leading up to the announcement of the 2020 winner of NCAA Woman of the Year.
By Nick Friar
Photo by Mike Gridley