An avid snowboarder and skateboarder, it only seems natural that Brent Server found his way to a diving board.
Cut from the junior varsity baseball tryouts as a sophomore at Carson High School, Server turned to diving and found an avenue to excellence that took him all the way to the NIAA Swimming and Diving Championships three years in a row, capped off by a silver medal performance in the one-meter event two weeks ago at the University of Nevada in Reno.
Server posted a score of 382.80 in the state finals on May 16 that trailed only Vance Hooley of Basic (410.95). The state record of 515.10 was set in 1996 by Carson's Corey Fox, who went on to compete at LSU.
"It was probably my best day of the season," Server said of the state meet. "You have 11 dives and there's usually two or three I mess up. I really didn't mess any up that day, so I was really satisfied."
Server's score was 48 points better than the previous week, when he placed second behind McQueen's Brad Warren at the Northern 4A Regional finals at Nevada's Lombardi Recreation Center Pool. Warren finished third at state with a 369.75 score.
"We were pretty close the last two years," Server said of the duel.
Server won the Northern 4A Regional championship last year by five points over Warren. Server also placed fourth at last year's state meet.
Based on his results from the year before, Server set some lofty goals for his senior season. However, he injured his leg in a skateboard accident back in the fall that curtailed his training between September and February.
"I was hoping to get first at the start of the year, but the competition really picked up," Server said. "If you look at the South, I think their divers are all year-round."
One of only four divers on the Carson team this season, Server showed determination and self discipline as he commuted to Reno three days a week during the season. The other two days, former University of Nevada diver Krista Sunderman drove from Reno to Carson to coach him. In addition, Server has put in time on his own with the University of Nevada divers and coach Jian Li You, whose list of pupils includes Chinese and American Olympians and was herself ranked No. 1 in the world on the one-meter board between 1976 and 1980.
Server came back from the leg injury and picked up his own game this season by adding four new dives and polishing his bread and butter -- the back 1-1/2 somersault.
"He's a hard worker," Carson coach Monica Weaver said. "He's really done so well when you consider he was never on a diving team before his sophomore year, and he doesn't have a gymnastics background like a lot of those kids do. To finish second in the state really says a lot for him."
Not bad for an athlete who missed the baseball cut three years ago. Server finished 10th at the state as a sophomore and only improved from there.
"I went out for the baseball team and got cut, but I wanted to do a sport that year," Server said. "I thought about diving because I used to go to the pool and mess around. I like snowboarding, I like the aerial stuff and flips. So I decided to give it a try and I got the hang of it pretty quickly. My first year was a lot of fun."
Server also carries a 3.8 grade average at school and was named to the academic all-state list each of the last two years. The next stop is Arizona State University, where he plans to study chemical engineering.
"The UNLV coach talked to me and my parents at the state meet and asked if I was interested in diving for them," Server said. "I said I was set for ASU, but if anything changes, they're going to keep a spot open for me. That's (college) a big step up. I kind of want to see how the program is and much time is involved, but yes, it's something to think about."
Dave Price is a sports writer for the Nevada Appeal