September 16, 2017
Communications Sr. Associate
Editor’s Note: LSU all-America diver Alison Maisch is a member of the 2017 LSU Athletic Hall of Fame induction class and will be formally enshrined on Friday in the L’Auberge Baton Rouge Events Center. The other inductees are women’s basketball player Joyce Walker, men’s basketball player Collis Temple Jr., pole vaulter Russ Buller, sprinter Debbie Parris-Thymes and softball pitcher Kristin Schmidt.
As a talented teenage diver considering her choice of colleges, Alison Maisch never expected to go to school in Louisiana. In fact, the Cherry Hill, N.J., native says that when former LSU diving coach Donnie Craine first approached her, she wasn’t even sure where the university was located.
“I’ll never forget standing outside of the University of Alabama natatorium during the 1984 Senior Nationals,” Maisch recalled. “I was talking to some teammates about potential recruiting trips when Donnie Craine happened to walk by and said, ‘you’re saving a trip for me, right?’ I don’t even think I knew who he was or what school. Honestly, when I found out he would be at LSU, I don’t even think I knew where LSU was.”
Maisch first took a recruiting trip to the University of Florida before making an official visit to Baton Rouge.
“My trip to Florida played a role in my decision,” Maisch explained. “The UF diving coach said to me, ‘don’t you want to be on a national and conference championship team?’ My thought was, maybe, but I think I’d rather be part of a team that’s on the rise versus trying to defend a title. When I went on my recruiting trip to LSU, it just felt right.”
Maisch arrived at LSU in the fall of 1985, and she helped sustain one of the most successful periods in the Tigers’ swimming and diving history. From 1985-86 through 1988-89, the LSU women’s team compiled 48 individual all-America awards and finished in the Top 25 in each of those four seasons. The men’s program thrived as well, winning the 1988 SEC team title and recording Top 10 NCAA finishes in 1987 and 1988.
Maisch became the first national champion in LSU diving history when she won the 1989 NCAA 1-meter springboard title. She was an All-American in each of her four seasons, and she was named SEC Diver of the Year in 1988. She was a four-time SEC champion, and after college she earned a silver medal at the 1991 Pan American Games on both the 1-meter board and the 10-meter platform.
Maisch credits much of her collegiate success to the dedication of Craine – who died tragically in a boating accident in 2014 – and the LSU head coaches during her career, Sam Freas and Rick Meador.
“I was truly blessed with the coaching staff at LSU,” Maisch said. “Donnie Craine was by far the best coach I ever dove for. He would have loved to be here to celebrate this honor with me. Donnie was tough on us, but truly supportive. The coaches at LSU reinforced strong work ethic and doing the right thing for the right reason. I truly believe that my time at LSU was a very positive influence on the person I am today.”
“Alison was one of the hardest-working athletes I’ve ever seen,” Meador said. “She was the model student-athlete, extremely dedicated to her work both in the classroom and in the pool. She was an outstanding leader who was very well-respected by everyone on the team. Alison was just a joy to be around, and I’m so excited that she is being inducted into the LSU Hall of Fame.”
Maisch, the youngest of three children, was first introduced to competitive swimming in a summer league at the age of four. As an eight-year-old, after watching the diving team practice, she taught herself a few dives, joined the squad, and her diving career took flight.
“I started diving year-round when I was 10 at a local club,” Maisch said. “We focused on the 1-meter board and typically had to share the pool and time our dives between swimmers. When I was in high school, I joined the Princeton University club team, which meant my parents drove me an hour each way to Princeton for a two-hour practice, four or five times a week. Princeton is where I really learned 3-meter and started learning some platform.”
Maisch said there were times during the Princeton practice sessions when she would dive three to four hours per day, but “when I got to LSU, that’s when I really learned what training was. We did two-plus hour practices, twice a day and once on Saturday. Our days started with dryland or strength training at 5:30 a.m. followed by in-the-water training and trampoline until 8 or 8:30, depending on when our classes started. We returned to the pool for an afternoon session that ran from 2:30 till 4:30 or 5. I vividly remember during dryland training climbing the tower ladder hoping that my legs would not give out.”
The discipline required to become a world-class diver has benefited Maisch in her post-athletic career, as she has worked as a Speech Language Pathologist for the past 25 years. She and her husband of 26 years, Donald Brothers, live in Spring Hill, Fla., and they have two children, Justin, 22, and Ashlyn, 19.
“My practice has been very rewarding in knowing that I am making a positive impact on the lives of my patients and their families,” Maisch said. “But my biggest challenge always seems to be planning what to make for dinner! I have been truly blessed with my husband and our two wonderful children.”
Maisch calls her induction into the LSU Athletic Hall of Fame “an incredible honor,” and the sport in which she thrived as a Fighting Tiger remains in her blood.
“I’ve recently gotten back involved with USA Diving as a certified judge,” Maisch revealed. “I was a judge for the 2017 Summer Junior Nationals in Columbus, Ohio this past summer. It was great to give back in the sport that gave me so much!”