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It's All in the Family for Gamecock Diver and Coach
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It's All in the Family for Gamecock Diver and Coach

by Brad Muller, Director of Content

South Carolina graduate diver Brooke Schultz is no stranger to success, but she is making a big name for herself in a short time as a Gamecock, and having her father, Dale, here as her coach makes it that much better. Sharing this segment of their lives is special for both.

“He has this tough exterior, but whenever I win an event, he’ll start crying or show his emotions, which is really cool,” Brooke said. “As soon as the last dive is over and as soon as the results are out, he’s right there to give me a big hug. It’s really nice.”
Brooke Schultz 2022
“I’m thankful every day to be able to do this,” said Dale, a three-time SEC Diving Coach of the Year, who has been a collegiate diving coach for more than 30 years, having worked at Arkansas (1989-2000, 2008-13, 2016-21), Florida (2014-16), and Purdue (1988-89).

Brooke graduated from Arkansas in December, and came to Columbia in January, not only because of Dale coming over from the Razorback’s program last May, but also because she wanted to get her master’s degree in sport management from South Carolina after earning her undergraduate degree in business management while in Fayetteville. 

“The combination of my dad coming here and that program being available, it just felt like the perfect storm,” Brooke said.

“It was the right move for me because I had coached with (South Carolina head coach) Jeff Poppell before,” Dale said. “I knew that he was going to do a great job, and I wanted to be a part of that. The other side of it was that the school is one of the tops in the country for sports management, and that’s an area that Brooke wanted to go into, so it was a good fit for both of us.”

Brooke was a two-time SEC Diver of the year (2018, 2019) at Arkansas and was the 2018 NCAA Champion in the three-meter dive. She also made trips to the NCAA championships in 2019 where she placed second in the three-meter dive and in 2021 where she placed third in the one-meter dive. One of the constants in her life has been being coached by her dad.

“He started coaching me when I was nine,” said Brooke, who has two years of eligibility remaining thanks to a redshirt year as well as the season lost from the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic. “I started out in gymnastics and then quit that. I said I was never going to be a diver, but here we are!

“When she won NCAAs, and they put a microphone in my face, I cried like a baby. That was dad-mode, for sure.”
– Dale Schultz

“The best part is how we’ve had the opportunity to travel the world together for competitions. Those are experiences we would not have had if diving hadn’t been there. The hardest part is that as much as you don’t want (diving) to come home with you, it does. That was harder when I was younger and had a bad day and had to come home, but if I had a good day, then it was really good. Now, obviously, we don’t live together.”

“The difficult part is that you have the nerves of a parent because you want to see your child do well,” Dale said. “I only have one person to blame if she doesn’t do well, and that’s me. The best part is that we’re doing this together. We’re traveling all over the world together.
Dale and Brooke Schultz
“When she won NCAAs, and they put a microphone in my face, I cried like a baby. That was dad-mode, for sure.”

Neither Brooke nor Dale have had too much difficulty in adapting to their new program. Brooke been named SEC Diver of the Week twice since joining the team in January. She swept the springboard events in the Gamecocks’ meet versus Missouri in January while achieving NCAA Zone qualifying scores in both events. She wasn’t done there as she went on to sweep the springboard titles at the SEC Championships in Knoxville earlier this month with wins in the one and three-meter dives. It was the third time she had swept gold at SECs, after doing it twice while competing for Arkansas in 2018 and 2019.

“The tricky part about diving is that you have all season long to dive and make the Zone meet,” Brooke said. “Then you have one meet to make nationals. I feel like zones are more stressful than NCAAs. Once I get into NCAAs, I feel like I’m just one of many there.”

“I’ve had a lot of other great coaches’ brains to pick with her,” Dale said. “She has had the luxury of having not just myself, but several other people’s inputs who are coaches elsewhere. She has been determined, and she’s a hard worker.”

Even with those accomplishments, there were still some adjustments to be made in switching schools.

“I think the biggest adjustment was just coming in at mid-year,” Brooke said. “The South Carolina swimming and diving team is maybe twice the size that Arkansas’ was. So, I walked into a locker room where I didn’t know anybody. That can be a little intimidating, but as the season has gone on, I’ve gotten to know the girls, and going to SECs was really great!

“It’s been really cool and so different. I’ve really liked the campus and the team. At Arkansas, we didn’t have a men’s team, so training with men again has been different, but it’s really fun. I think that has helped me a lot. It’s more people to push you, and it brings a different dynamic to practice in not just having women at practice.”

“She didn’t know the fight song the first night she won here,” Dale said with a laugh. “But she has embraced the changes. She is excited to be here.”

Swimming and diving student-athletes keep a lot of long hours in the pool and have to balance a lot of workouts with their academic pursuits.

“I think the mornings are the hardest part as we have the 6:30 a.m. workouts every day,” Brooke said. “You have to find a way to balance school, diving and ‘other’ time. I really like what I do. It’s fun, and it’s challenging. It’s also so rewarding. The opportunity to travel the world is something I wouldn’t have without diving. I’ve been so many cool places because of it. The collegiate season can get long, but going to meets, seeing people you know is great. I have friends at schools in almost every conference across the country.”

She will later compete at the World Championships in Budapest in June and already has a long list of accomplishments in international competition. She earned gold at the 2017 Junior Pan American Championships in both the one meter and three-meter dives and silver in the three-meter dive at the 2017 World University Games. In 2018 she was named a member of the World Cup team and earned a bronze medal at the Bolanzo FINA Grand Prix. Schultz also participated in the 2020 Olympic Team trials where she placed sixth in the three-meter springboard.

When she’s not in the pool, Brooke likes to explore Columbia with her golden retriever, Dodger. For now, she’s focused on trying to get back to the NCAA Championships, and her father/coach will be there right alongside her.