Mickey Strauss is not your average diver. Strauss’s diving journey didn’t begin in the pool, but rather in a gymnastics gym.
Stauss is a junior from Provo majoring in psychology. At age two, Strauss’ parents enrolled him in gymnastics, where Strauss continued to flip on the floor for 14 years. After more than a decade on the mats, Strauss felt physically and mentally done with gymnastics.
“My body was just done,” Strauss said.
While he was leaving gymnastics behind, Strauss decided he did not want to ignore his flexibility and ability to flip. Strauss’ mother, a former high school diver, helped Strauss transition into diving during his sophomore year of high school, a sport where flexibility and the ability to flip are essential.
While Strauss began to dive, he also joined his dad, Mike, on the track, with Mike having competed on the University of Utah’s cross country and track teams from 1998-2001. When he started high school at Mountain View in Orem, Mickey decided to join the cross country team to make new friends. At the time, Mike Strauss was coaching the cross country and track teams.
“I of course loved being able to work with him on a day to day basis,” Mike said. “I got to watch him work and struggle through a sport that was not his ‘strength’ where he wasn’t the ‘best’ like he was in gymnastics and diving.”
Diving for BYU
Strauss initially committed to the University of Utah, but something wasn’t right. Strauss longed to train with former coach Tyce Rouston at BYU, so he turned his focus to Provo. Strauss applied to BYU and was denied, but determine to dive at BYU, he went to Utah Valley University for a year before transferring to BYU.
Tyce Rouston is in his seventh season as BYU’s head diving coach. Rouston started coaching Strauss when the diver was in high school and, “right away he showed talent,” Rouston said. When starting Strauss’ training, they pushed Strauss to see how far he could go and what tricks he could do. Once they understood what Strauss was capable of doing, they returned to the fundamentals of diving to make sure Strauss had a strong foundation.
Rouston appreciated Strauss’ background as a gymnast.
“Getting your hands on a gymnast is always fun because they know some of the tricks,” Rouston said.
Strauss excels when diving. When he steps onto the board, everything around him disappears.
“When you’re on the board, you’re by yourself. It’s you and the board,” Strauss said.
As a student-athlete, Strauss has to be able to balance his school and his athletic responsibilities. He uses a planner to keep track of his homework and to help him stay focused. He explained that his social life outside of his team disappears when diving is in season.
“I’m just so focused on school and diving,” Strauss said. “That’s what I’m here to do so I might as well try and do my best at it.”
The Olympic trials
When Strauss started diving, he wanted to make it to the NCAA Division I Men’s Swimming and Diving Championship. While, like many young athletes, Strauss wanted to compete in the Olympic trials, that seemed far from possible. However, last year, Mickey attended both the diving championship and the Olympic trials.
While Strauss did not place high enough to compete in the 2020 Summer Olympics, that doesn’t hinder him from working to return again for the 2024 Olympic trials.
“It was such a surreal experience,” Strauss said. As a young kid, he remembers watching the 2008 Olympic games in Beijing and wanting to compete, but at the time he thought he would be competing in gymnastics rather than diving.
“Mickey had always talked about wanting to be an Olympian,” said Malia Strauss, Mickey’s mother. “To watch his dreams starting to become reality was unbelievable.”
To be on the Olympic diving team, an athlete has to be the best of the best. As Strauss prepares for the 2024 Olympic trials, he has to remind himself how far he has come in such a short amount of time.
Rouston explained that Strauss is continuing to train at an Olympic caliber.
“He’s a leader in the fact that he has high goals for himself,” Rouston said.
Life Off the Board
When Strauss isn’t diving or completing homework, he likes learning about cars, long boarding down the canyon with friends and making music.
As Strauss got to college, he missed playing the cello so much that he “went and bought another one.”
Since home is just minutes away from campus, Strauss spends as much time as he can with his family.
The Strauss family takes the Fourth of July very seriously. Each year, Strauss puts on an 8-foot Uncle Sam costume and participates in the Freedom Run 5k in Provo.
Leading the Team to Success
Rouston describes Strauss as “part beagle, part pitbull” because he is loyal while also being competitive and not afraid to go after the attack.
Strauss “doesn’t spend time dwelling on past mistakes,” Malia Strauss said. “He has an optimistic view of success.”
Strauss credits his success to his role models, specifically his parents, younger brother and Rouston. Strauss admires that his dad has a constant need to “improve his knowledge.” His younger brother was a good example of “constantly working hard.” Both his dad and his brother have shown Strauss that, even when faced with difficult trials, he can “work hard and be better every day.”
When it comes to Rouston, Strauss finds that he always knows how to help his divers reach their goals.
“(Rouston) really listens to you. He knows how to get you to the next level and the necessary steps it takes,” Strauss said.
Strauss has loved his experience as a BYU diver. Each day he works hard and is engaged in what the team is doing. For Strauss, his passion for diving stems from “being relaxed and having fun.”