Going for Gold
It can be hard to stick with something day after day. Jordan, a thirteen-year-old from Indianapolis, Indiana, knows what it is like to be dedicated to one activity. He spends roughly eight hours a day, six days a week, practicing his diving skills. But all his hard work is paying off. He qualified for the Olympic Trials in Seattle this past June. In fact, he is currently training in the hope of making it to the 2016 Olympic games.
When Jordan was just seven years old, his dad, Jerry, signed him up for a summer camp that focused on swimming and diving. The head coach of the summer camp was impressed by Jordan’s natural talent on the diving boards and suggested he take part in his diving program. It just so happened that that head coach was Tim O’Brien, whose father, Dr. Ron O’Brien, coached Olympic diver and four-time Gold Medalist Greg Louganis.
In order to have Olympic potential like Jordan, you have to be prepared to work hard, to concentrate, and to connect with a really good coach. But it also requires a goal to keep you going. Jordan says his training schedule is really tough and long, but he keeps telling himself that he wants to go to the Olympics.
You might be wondering how Jordan is able to train so often and go to school at the same time. Well, Jordan goes to school online through the Indiana Connections Academy (INCA). This way, he can be flexible with his schedule. He can train during the day and then attend virtual classes when he is free.
As important as diving is to Jordan, being a role model for other kids with families like his is even more important. Jordan is very open about his family. He filmed an “It Gets Better” video for the It Gets Better Project, about himself and his two dads, Jerry and Andrés. The Project gives support to young people in the LGBT community by reminding them that bullying doesn’t last forever. Kids have bullied Jordan because he has two dads, but he is simply thankful to have two dads who love him. Jordan insists that “love is love,” and that “it doesn’t matter if you have two dads.”
In addition to the “It Gets Better” video, Jordan wrote and published a kids’ book with dad, Jerry. The book, An Orphan No More—The True Story of a Boy: Chapter One, is based on Jordan’s life, beginning with his adoption. Jordan lived in an orphanage in Cambodia until his dad, Jerry, adopted him when he was two years old. Jordan feels bad because there are a lot of orphans out there who weren’t as lucky as he is. Recently, he and Jerry did a book signing, and many people said they enjoyed the story. Some people even cried because they were so touched. The book signing took place at the Circle City Indiana Pride Parade. Jordan got to be the grand marshal at the parade, which means that he got to ride around on a float and wave to the crowds with his dads right beside him. He says he “felt good about it.”
Between his Olympic training, his book promotion, his “It Gets Better” video, several TV appearances, and a prominent role in the Pride Parade, Jordan has had his share of fame. But he manages to have downtime just like any other kid. He likes to play basketball with his dads, have ping-pong competitions, go on vacations, and even make stuff out of paper. He once made a spatula! No matter what he does, Jordan remains, in Jerry’s words, “a very grounded human being.” Watch out for Jordan in the 2016 Olympic Games, and witness a dream becoming a reality.