READING – When the phone first rang and the caller identified themselves as being from LaRosa’s Pizzeria, Lori Rapp was thinking she just won free pizza.
As it turned out, the pie wasn’t free, but the invitation to be inducted into the LaRosa’s High School Hall of Fame was an honor the former Mount Notre Dame diver and now coach couldn’t ignore.
The 1988 MND grad (Lori Rizzuto) was one of seven honored June 28 at WCET-TV studios for her diving efforts in high school and college where she was an All-American at the University of Cincinnati.
“What a classy, amazing banquet,” Rapp said of the festivities. “They just do such a nice job. That’s been 27 years ago (since her MND diving days). It’s an amazing honor to inducted with that group.”
As a coach, she has tutored divers in the Greater Cincinnati area at various schools, but most recently has been with MND, Mason, St. Xavier and Summit Country Day. At Summit, she coached recent state champion Stewart Spanbauer.
In the past she has also coached at Highlands, Indian Hill, Madeira and Ursuline. She currently leads the Mason divers at their own pool and brings MND, St. Xavier and Summit with her club team, Tri-State Diving, to UC’s facilities.
Her knowledge of the intricate sport is immeasurable and she has the battle wounds of back issues and shoulder surgeries to support her words of wisdom.
“When you dive platform, you’re 33 feet in the air and you’re going about 45 miles an hour,” she said. “When you don’t hit that water perfectly, water is not forgiving. It’s hard!”
Rapp was in the Senior National Championships at age 14 and eventually participated in the 1988 Olympic Trials in Indianapolis in platform diving. In 1992, she was in the Olympic Trials for platform and 3-meter springboard.
With the Cougars, she was a four-time National High School All-American and first-team All-City in both the Cincinnati Enquirer and the former Cincinnati Post.
She won the state title three straight years and set a record in her 1988 senior season. She just missed four straight titles with a narrow loss as a freshman.
“I missed it by like one-tenth of a point to a girl I dove against in club,” Rapp recalled.
Spanbauer was her most recent champion and she’s also tutored three girls state champions (Brittany Hill, Indian Hill; Jennifer Funch, Ursuline; Molly Elkins, Centerville/Tri-State Diving).
“We are a very small, close-knit community,” Rapp said. “Pretty much all of the kids know each other. I have three of my own kids, but I consider all of these kids mine. I have a huge extended family.”
Years ago, local illustrator Hank Zureick created caricatures for local prep athletes that appeared in the local papers and adorned walls of neighborhood LaRosa’s restaurants. Lori Rizzuto Rapp was once immortalized by the late sports promoter, so she’s actually been in a LaRosa’s “hall” for awhile.
“Hank Zureick, God love him, what a great man!” Rapp said. “In my caricature I had the big 80s hair. I wish they did that still. One of my son’s friends went over to Boudinot (LaRosa’s) after a high school game and sent him a text saying, ‘I just saw your mom’s picture on the wall!’”