Feb. 7, 2014
In our latest “Getting to Know…” we sit down with Seton Hall junior Ben Mitchell. The junior owns both Pirate records from the one- and three-meter boards, and is the top returning competitor in both events for this year’s BIG EAST Championships. The diving competition is set for Friday-Saturday, Feb. 14-15, at Villanova.
How did you wind up at Seton Hall?
I used to train club diving at West Point and I asked one of my former teammates for the club team, Katie Riley, who now dives with me at Seton Hall, to let the coach know that I was looking at colleges. He set me up with a recruiting trip and I wound up going to Seton Hall.
You’re the school record-holder in both the one- and three-meter dives. What’s it like to know that?
It’s very good for me. I still think the records could be higher so I always try to break them anytime I can.
What were your goals for this season?
My goal is always to break the records and raise them up as high as I can before I graduate. Entering the season I had some goals on a couple of dives and to hopefully win the BIG EAST Championship (No Seton Hall diver has won a gold medal at the championships).
You were the first Seton Hall diver to make an A final in school history at last year’s BIG EAST Championships (from the three-meter board). How does it feel to hear that?
It’s a good feeling, and it also brings me a lot of pressure. I put a lot of pressure on myself, which I know I shouldn’t. Coaches will tell you not to, but it’s hard for me because I always think I could be better. But it’s good to hear that.
Last year you were Seton Hall’s Male Sophomore Athlete of the Year. What was your initial reaction when you were told about that award?
How do you prepare for meets? Do you have any rituals?
It was a really good feeling to be honored that way. I didn’t think I would be able to get that award, but it was nice to receive it. Hopefully I can get another one this year, that means I’ll be at the same pace as last year and maybe doing a little bit better.
I try a lot of different things. Lately I’ve been trying to definitely get enough sleep, and I try not to eat a lot before a meet. I usually save that for after the competition is done. I usually do a really long warmup and a really long time of stretching. I usually do well when I do that. I just listen to music, or sometimes I call the old Seton Hall diving coach (Mike Almasri) for an inspirational speech to get me ready for the meet. He’s the guy who recruited me. I still keep in contact with him, and he coached PJ Hughes, my current diving coach.
So you don’t have any superstitions or anything you have to do the same before each meet?
I feel like I am superstitious but I haven’t found the right combination. I will try new or different things to see if I would do well, but so far for all of the weird or different things I do there’s a mistake in there.
What’s your major?
I’m studying criminal justice.
Have you started thinking about what you’d like to do after you graduate?
I’m looking into doing internships soon and see where that goes for me, maybe doing different kinds of internships to see what fits best. Maybe some paralegal work.
Is there anything specific within criminal justice you’re looking to focus on, or is it more general?
It’s a general interest right now. I haven’t really narrowed it down to anything specific. I’m still looking for that.
The BIG EAST Diving Championships are next week. What’s the camaraderie like with other divers from other schools when you get to a meet like that?
I try to be social as much as I can before the meet starts but when the championships actually start I try to keep it within my team and my coach.
You’re the top returner from both boards for this year’s championships. How does it feel to be looked upon as one of the leaders in the BIG EAST today?
I try not to put too much pressure on myself. As the days go by, it gets shorter until the championships and I kind of stress out a little bit. I try to keep my mind off that and not think about it as much as I can. I really want to go into the championships really calm and focused and just dive how I normally would. I usually dive well under pressure.