The West Island community rejoices for 19 year old Mia Vallee, a Montreal native who competed in the ACC diving championship for the University of Miami in February, winning a gold medal in the one-meter dive, as well as taking home silver in the three-meter dive.
Born in the West Island, Mia Vallee moved to Miami in August of 2019 to pursue her diving career. “I was thinking about going to school in the US for about a year before actually moving,” said Vallee. “I knew that as an athlete, I could probably get a scholarship, and I figured that it would be a great experience”
Majoring in marine biology, Mia’s academics played a major role in her decision to move to Miami as well. “With the way that the school system works in Canada, it’s very hard to get a degree while diving at a high level. I didn’t want to have to sacrifice my schooling for my diving, I wanted to do both. After doing some research, I found that Miami was one of the top diving schools in the country, so when the coach granted me a full scholarship, I knew that this was where I wanted to go”.
Mia’s diving journey dates back to when she was just five years old. “I was taking swimming lessons at the local pool when I saw people diving off the board. It looked really fun, so I told my parents that I wanted to try it. They signed me up for lessons at the Pointe-Claire Aquatic Center, and I kept progressing”.
Three years ago, however, Mia took a sixth-month break from diving, but this distance only sparked a revelation. “I had thought that maybe it wasn’t for me anymore, but that setback just made me realize how much I loved it and how much of a passion it really was above all else.”
Mia can now add a gold and silver medal to her diving resume as she continues to compete.
Her journey shows every West Island athlete that they can do whatever they put their minds to, as long as their love for the sport is there. “You have to go with your heart. Even from a young age, it was always me that packed my bag, me that told my parents that it was time to go to practice. It was what I wanted to do. I wasn’t doing it for anybody else then, and I’m still not doing it for anybody else now. I don’t really see the point in diving or competing for other people like your parents or your coaches. At that point, it isn’t worth it. You have to follow what you want.”