Written by Sarah Bergstrom, USC blog contributor
USC athletes are more than just champions on the field, court, diamond, and pool, they're champions in the classroom as well. Each week, we will get to know one of these scholarly Trojans a little better in our student-athlete spotlight.
Name: Jordan Gear
Sport: Men's Diving
Major: French and Critical Studies
Sarah Bergstrom (SB): So you're a double major in French and Critical Studies, what made you decide to double major in those two subjects?
Jordan Gear (JG): That probably goes back to my experience at my prep school. We were always doing multiple things, that was their model, to not be a one trick pony, to try and be a renaissance man. I was always really good at languages and I always loved them, so taking on a second major in a language was something I knew I could do really well and easily. As for the film major, I wanted to do that because I want to write and direct films in the future.
SB: So I'm assuming you came to USC because of the film school?
JG: It was really funny actually. I wasn't even looking at USC during recruiting. But when I came on my trip I found out the film program was number one. I thought I would just take a visit to Los Angeles because it would be fun. I'm pretty sure after my first day I committed.
SB: Have you had any of those crazy film school stories meeting a famous actor or director?
JG: I'm taking a class right now that focuses on Spielberg and all of his work and he came in a month ago. I was pleasantly surprised meeting him. For someone who is so accomplished, he's very humble. I'm also taking a censorship class this semester and Hugh Hefner is coming in a couple of weeks.
SB: You speak Spanish, French, and I've heard you speak Italian as well. What made you want to learn so many languages and how did you get started with them?
JG: Last summer I was supposed to go train in Rome, so I started to teach myself Italian during the spring semester. Because it's a romance language, and because I already speak Spanish and French, it was really easy to pick up. Once you know one, you can learn them all. I took Spanish in 5th grade all the way through 12th grade. When I was a freshman in high school, I lived in Spain for two months doing a study abroad program and while I was there I actually discovered I really wanted to learn French. One of my professors there spoke French so he started teaching it to me on the side and then I started taking the classes when I got back to my prep school.
SB: What's your favorite food out of the three?
JG: I could eat Italian food three times a day, every single day. But I've been to all three countries, and it's all good.
SB: Do you ever get the languages confused when you're speaking one?
JG: All the time. Spanish the most. I'll start saying something in Spanish and I'll finish speaking in French or I say things with the wrong accent. It's really funny.
SB: Is it hard to balance being a double major and doing diving?
JG: No. The only difference in terms of workload is that for all of college I'm only able to take one elective if I want to graduate on time. I had to take one summer school class last summer and one this summer, but I'm studying abroad in France so that will be fun. It's really not hard if you plan and prepare.
SB: Pat Haden talks a lot about hoping athletes have a well-rounded experience in their time at USC. It seems like you have taken advantage of a lot of opportunities already, is there anything else you want to accomplish?
JG: If you want a complete experience you have to work at it, it's not just going to fall into your lap. You can choose to show up at practice, go home, and do nothing, or you can choose to make the time. We all have 24 hours in a day and you have to be very disciplined to make the time to do what you need to do. If I didn't do other things outside of diving and school I'd go nuts. I actually have a job. I work for a producer who has her own talent management company doing different things every week. I also have been working with a nonprofit organization founded by one of my friends on the swim team. It's called PR12, and it's focused on a village in Uganda, giving local leaders the resources to turn their economy around and enabling them to work to fix problems on their own.
SB: So to switch gears a little bit, let's talk about diving. What's the hardest part of the sport?
JG: It's all mental. Thinking about the dives I have to do at practice and getting up to the 10m, being scared, and knowing I have to do it 10 times.
SB: Wait, it's still scary even after all this time?
JG: Yes! (laughs) It's so scary. Every time we go up to 10m, all of us, even my roommate who is an Olympian, we just ask ourselves why we do this every week. But really you just have to focus on the action and what you need to do. If you think about how far it is, you'll walk back down every time. If you think about your technique, what dive you're doing, you're fine.
SB: Last season you were fourth in Pac-12s and seventh in NCAA Zones, an alternate for the NCAA Championships. How frustrating is it to be that close to making it and how did that motivate you for this year?
JG: It's frustrating because it's out of your control but there's really nothing you can do. I basically performed well in the wrong event which is hard. But it made me really motivated. You can only show up and do the best you can at every meet. Diving is a very on the day sport. But it's so doable. I've definitely improved and I am a lot more aware of the corrections I need to make to perform a dive well. We did great in Arizona and I think it's going to be a good season.