At Texas, freshman diver Jordan Windle is seen as one of the best collegiate athletes in the country. But nearly halfway across the world, Windle is seen as a beacon of hope for many Cambodian orphans.
That’s because he used to be one himself.
Windle was less than six months old when he was found outside an orphanage in Cambodia after the death of his birth parents.
Windle’s adoptive father, Jerry, discovered a magazine for an adoption placement service while waiting in a doctor’s office one day in Florida. A month and a half later, Jerry received the news that would change his and Jordan’s lives forever.
“They said that they wanted him to be my son, and they thought that he would be the perfect match with me based on my home study and my personality,” Jerry said. “I saw his picture, and I immediately fell in love with him.”
It wasn’t until age 7 that Jordan began taking to the diving board. Jerry enrolled him at an aquatics camp for the summer, and the coaches quickly noticed Jordan’s potential.
“One day, randomly, the head coach of the club team told my dad to get me to join the team,” Jordan said. “So I tried it, and two weeks later, ended up getting on the team. My diving career started from there.”
One of Jordan’s coaches, Evan Linette, foresaw how bright Jordan’s future could be after his ability on the diving board rapidly improved.
“I just remember looking at his dad and saying, ‘Jerry, I can’t wait until he’s 15,’ and at the time he was just maybe 10,” Linette said. “I said, ‘Just watch because it’s just going to blow up.’”
Since then, things have definitely blown up for the Longhorn standout diver. Throughout his career, Jordan has received numerous awards, most recently at the Big 12 Championships last week in Austin where he set an NCAA platform diving record in just his first year on campus.
Having already achieved so much in his collegiate career in such a short amount of time, Jordan said coming to Texas has made him a better person and enhanced his athletic career.
“Being able to branch out, grow up to be a man and being around all these amazing athletes has definitely made me probably a better athlete as well,” Jordan said. “They’re pushing me. I’m hopefully pushing them as well.”
Jordan is an athlete forged between two nations. As a competitor for the Longhorns, he represents the United States while simultaneously carrying his Cambodian heritage — something he’s never stopped embracing.
At age 16, Jordan took his first trip back to Cambodia since being adopted. In association with the Cambodian government, he was able to put on a diving exhibition for orphans in Phnom Penh. Prior to his performance, Jordan walked over toward the crowd and delivered a speech to the attending members.
“(Jordan) said something on the cuff that ‘I am one of you. I am a child of Cambodia. The only difference between you and me is that I was given opportunity,’” his father said. “He turned and looked at the government officials and said, ‘I hope that you will give the children of Cambodia all the opportunity that I was given.’”
Often times, a staple of being a Texas swimming and diving athlete is getting the Longhorn logo tattooed on their body. Jordan, however, had some different ink in mind, opting to get the Cambodian flag on his left bicep.
“If I’m ever on TV, when I do a dive and I’m holding my arms out, they’ll see that,” Jordan said, “and everybody in Cambodia will know I’m representing them too.”