Daughter Diver: Schultz stands out on dad's team

By: Matt Jones
Published: Wednesday, October 18, 2017
Arkansas freshman diver Brooke Schultz, left, is earning high marks for her father, Razorbacks coach Dale Schultz.
Photo by Ben Goff
Arkansas freshman diver Brooke Schultz, left, is earning high marks for her father, Razorbacks coach Dale Schultz.

— Brooke Schultz admits she was a little stubborn when she began diving.

She spent seven years in gymnastics and had developed some tendencies that helped and others that were antithetical to diving. Most notably, she had to learn to go head-first into a pool after years of learning to land on her feet.

As a diver, she was trained by her father, Dale, who dove collegiately at Maine. Her mother, Darby, also was a college diver and earned All-American status at Purdue.

“Growing up in our household isn’t always easy, but I don’t believe in doing anything mediocre,” Dale Schultz said.

“I couldn’t dive for me. I don’t think I was tough enough to dive for me. … I don’t know that I wanted it as bad as people at Brooke’s level. You’ve got to want it to be here.”

Brooke is more prone to listen to her father these days. She’s a freshman on the Arkansas dive team, which is coached by her dad.

The wisdom of the father is beginning to pay off for the 18-year-old, who is coming off a successful summer world tour. While her classmates were still finding their classes on campus, Brooke finished second in the 3-meter springboard at the World University Games in Taipei, Taiwan, and recently won gold in the 1- and 3-meter springboard competitions at the Junior Pan American Championships in Victoria, Canada.

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Brooke Schultz competes at FINA World Championships in Budapest, Hungary, July 20, 2017. (Tibor Illyes/MTI via AP) + Enlarge

Earlier this year, she represented the U.S. at the World Championships in Budapest, Hungary. Dale Schultz was a coach for the Americans.

“I’m like a lot of other college students with classes and other things to balance,” Brooke Schultz said. “Sometimes it’s a lot, but I’m definitely aware of the opportunities that I’ve been afforded.”

Her nine-dive score of 409.95 on the 1-meter was 28.8 points better than any of the other competitors in Canada. She outscored the second-place finisher by 13.05 points in her nine dives in the 3-meter.

“It was my last junior competition and it was a lot of fun,” she said. “I just wanted to see how well I could dive. My training had paid off over the summer. Winning the medals was a good end to my junior career and kind of a long summer of competition.”

With international competitions nowhere in the foreseeable future, Brooke has turned her attention to her freshman season with the Razorbacks. If her first meet was any indication, it could be a memorable four years in Fayetteville.

During Arkansas’ season-opening meet against SMU last month, Brooke broke the school records in both of her events. She scored 343.43 on five dives in the 1-meter springboard and 366.38 in five attempts off the 3-meter springboard.

She followed that performance with a sweep in her events at Missouri last Saturday. She outscored the field by 21.2 points in the 1-meter, which helped her earn SEC diver of the week.

Her dad lights up when talking about her dives, ranging from the Reverse 1 1/2-Somersault, 2 1/2 Twist off the 1-meter springboard to the Front 2 1/2 Pike with two twists off the 3-meter springboard.

Her Front 3 1/2-Somersault off the 1-meter springboard is a men’s dive, her dad said. From the diving board to the water is less than two seconds.

“It’s really neat for a parent and a child to be at this level as a coach-athlete,” Dale Schultz said. “A lot of times you get to experience it with someone else’s child, but I get to do it with someone else’s child and my child. It has been a great experience, a unique experience.

“You go to the meets and know you’ve got a shot to win any meet. It is fun. I don’t even look at it from a dad standpoint, to be honest with you. When she broke both school records, that’s what I brought her in here to do. Sometimes the coach in me gets in the way of allowing me to enjoy it probably as a dad. Mom gets to enjoy it more.

“We’re really able to separate it. We very rarely talk about diving outside of the pool. We’re able to have a normal relationship and still compete at this level.”

The scores began to improve around the time the dad and daughter spent several months apart her sophomore year of high school. Dale Schultz had been working in Indiana when he was hired as head coach at Florida in 2014. It wasn’t until the next school year that his family joined him in Gainesville.

“That helped solidify our relationship,” Dale Schultz said. “I think when we were apart, it made her realize that Dad may have known what he was talking about. Instead of being mean to her, I was trying to push her to reach her potential.”

Brooke agreed.

“I had grown from my experiences and was definitely more mature and ready to learn,” she said. “I wanted to push myself.”

After earning SEC Coach of the Year at Florida in 2016, Schultz was offered and accepted a chance to come coach Arkansas for a third time. He had been the Razorbacks’ dive coach from 1989-2000 and from 2008-13.

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Schultz is the reigning SEC diver of the week after a sweep in Columbia, Mo. (Photo by Ben Goff) + Enlarge

“Wherever you raise your kids, that’s home,” he said. “We have two other children besides Brooke, so this was home. It was important for me to get my youngest son, who was 14 at the time, back into an environment where he had friends and family, and stuff like that.”

Dale Schultz left behind perhaps the most coveted diving job in the SEC but appears to be making inroads at Arkansas. In addition to his daughter, his freshman class this year includes Maha Amer, who qualified for the Egyptian Olympic team at the 2016 Rio Games.

Amer and Schultz are candidates to compete at the Tokyo Games in 2020.

“The tough part is making sure I do everything necessary to give her an opportunity to make the Olympic team,” Dale Schultz said. “Everybody says, ‘You left Florida and went to Arkansas, so there’s no pressure.’ There’s actually more pressure for me because if I do my best and somebody else doesn’t make the games, I did my best. But if my daughter doesn’t make it, I’ve failed her as a coach and failed her as a dad. There is that pressure to make sure I prepare and plan real well. That’s for all the kids.

“I think it’s going to help as far as other kids realizing what we have and that they can come here and train. We’re recruiting kids that she may or may not be able to beat, but that’s what is going to make her better.”

Brooke Schultz indicated she welcomes that kind of competition now. You could call it a byproduct of her upbringing by a relentless dad who pushed her to be great.

“He’s definitely hard — not only on me, but all the other divers in the program — but it comes from a good place,” she said. “It’s necessary a lot of times because whenever you’re not feeling motivated it gives you a reason to keep pushing through. It all pays off whenever you get the accomplishments at meets.

“It’s really nice because it’s a kind of environment I’ve been in my whole life. It’s home to me. I definitely have a level of comfort that a lot of others don’t have.”

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