Shenendehowa senior Maia Cacchione will be a two-sport athlete during her college career at Fordham University, but she has her eyes set on achieving new heights before closing out her high school career.
A multi-sport star for the Plainsmen, Cacchione finished sixth at the Section II girls’ diving championships in November and will look to qualify Friday for the state outdoor track and field championships in the girls’ pole vault.
Cacchione will compete as a diver and pole vaulter at Fordham, too. She will be a biology major taking a pre-health track with plans to attend veterinary school after completing her undergraduate degree.
“I valued school at a little higher level than my sporting events,” Cacchione said about her college search. “Once I found a school that I really felt as though I’d be comfortable at, then I looked into sports. I was like, ‘Wow, these are both sports that I love here — and they have great coaching staffs and great resources.’ That’s how I found the perfect college for me.”
Cacchione said it took a meeting of the minds between the collegiate coaching staffs to find a suitable arrangement for her to compete in both sports.
“In college, you dive beginning in mid-August and the championships are in March,” Cacchione said. “I’ve talked to both coaches, and they agreed that I’d be fine just vaulting for the outdoor season.”
Pole vaulting was an unknown to Cacchione until Shenendehowa diving coach Dennis Hogan encouraged her to try it as a seventh-grader. Hogan also coaches the pole vaulters for the Plainsmen’s track and field programs.
“Whether you start out with diving or pole vaulting, he always tries to recruit you to the other,” Cacchione said. “I never really liked running or track or anything about that, but he convinced me, so I started the spring of that year. I’ve been doing it ever since.”
She said she wasn’t a natural pole vaulter at first.
“The first time I pole vaulted, it was probably about five feet. . . . It’s a rough beginning, but if you really stick to it, it’ll work out in the end,” she said.
Her two sports, diving and pole vaulting, have common movements.
“Coach always connects that your reverse dive tuck is the same as your inversion from the pole,” Cacchione said. “As soon as you take off the ground [in pole vault], you flip yourself upside down. That’s the exact same movement as a reverse dive.”
The transition has worked.
Cacchione is ranked second in the girls’ pole vault in Section II at 11-0, behind Saratoga Springs sophomore Amelia McBain at 11-6.
Both pole vaulters will compete Friday at the girls’ state qualifying meet at Shenendehowa High School. The boys’ pole vault qualifying meet was held Thursday.