AMHERST, NY. (WKBW) — Whenever Victoria Franz steps onto a diving board, she's overwhelmed with gratitude.
"I'm lucky I get to do this," she said about diving. "So let's have some fun."
Franz is a junior on the University at Buffalo diving team and has already achieved quite a bit during her time with the Bulls. She's fresh off a MAC diver of the year honor and a trip to the NCAA Championship. Last summer, she represented Buffalo in the U.S. Diving Olympic trials.
It's why it's kind of crazy to think diving wasn't her first passion. It was gymnastics, a sport she did alongside her two sisters.
"When I wasn't in the gym, I was in the backyard flipping or playing," she recalled. "We were in the gym for hours every day."
But all of that changed when she was 10 years old and diagnosed with Crohn's. It's a chronic inflammatory bowel disease that doesn't have a cure.
For Franz it caused weakness, severe weight loss, and constant abdominal pain.
"I was really lost when the doctors advised me to kind of take a step back and rethink things," she said.
It wasn't easy news to hear, but she also needed to take care of herself. That meant finding something new and diving became the answer.
"It's everything I could do in gymnastics but without all of the pain," Franz said. "My body handled it really well and I was just able to keep going and so far, it's been a really great experience."
Franz is still on several medications and gets infusions in Rochester every eight weeks but is as close to remission as she's ever been. There's good days and bad days, but every good day is a blessing.
"When I was little, I felt sorry for myself," she said. "I was like why is this happening to me? But as I've gotten older, everyone has their own struggles."
And it's that positive attitude that makes Franz the resilient student-athlete she is today. Life hasn't been easy, but to be a Division-I diver with so much to look forward to? You can't ask for much more.
"Yea I'm struggling with this but I still get to come in and dive every day for the past three years," she said. "So I've got it pretty good!"