East Penn Press

Friday, August 23, 2019
PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZ Brendan McCourt took first place in the PIAA Class 3A championships during his junior season in 2018-19. Copyright - Nancy Scholz PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZ Brendan McCourt took first place in the PIAA Class 3A championships during his junior season in 2018-19. Copyright - Nancy Scholz

McCourt took EHS diving to new heights

Saturday, August 3, 2019 by CHUCK HIXSON Special to the Press in Sports

After building upon his accomplishments year after year, you kind of have to wonder what Brendan McCourt is going to do for his senior season as a diver at Emmaus High School. As a freshman, he finished third at districts and followed that up with gold medals in each of the next two seasons. At states, he finished seventh in 2018 and then jumped to the top in 2019, easily winning a gold medal by a margin of 55 points in the competition.

Even though he finished seventh in 2018, he came in seeded only eighth in the competition at Bucknell University this past March. The seeding and what he had accomplished last season were forgotten once McCourt hit the board at Bucknell. A few dives in, McCourt was already establishing himself as much more than an eighth seed.

“When I came into the season, [winning gold at states] was my goal and I never lost my focus on that, so it didn’t really matter to me where I was seeded or whatever else was going on, I was just going after that,” said McCourt.

McCourt’s progression to the top started by putting up big dives in East Penn Conference meets and working alongside teammate and friend Andrew Vanim. In 2017, Vanim and McCourt finished second and third, respectively, at the EPC diving championship.

While McCourt set the standard in the conference throughout dual meets and at the midseason conference meet in 2018, he finished third at the conference diving championship thanks to a controversial ruling. Parkland coach Cary Lehman issued a challenge, stating that McCourt had changed the order of his dives without notifying the officials. The challenge was upheld and McCourt was given a failed dive, dropping him in the order of finish.

That moment seemed to add a bit of ferociousness to McCourt’s diving career. Normally a very laid back and affable guy, McCourt calmly stated that the incident would push him in his pursuit of diving gold whether it was in the EPC, districts or states.

“That was disappointing, but at the same time, it also was a bit of an eye opener and I started to pay attention to everything that I did,” said McCourt. “I just worked to make every dive as good as I could possibly make it and I wasn’t going to slow down at all.”

When McCourt came onto the scene, Emmaus diving was undergoing a resurgence. Vanim and girls diver Jess Hurlburt had success in conference and district meets and some success at states. With both Vanim and Hurlburt graduating, this past season all eyes were on McCourt to continue growing the team and its accomplishments.

“You could definitely feel that the team was gaining traction along the way,” said McCourt. “Andrew and Jess were so good and I learned a lot from them and this past season when they were both gone, it was kind of my turn to help the younger divers. We have so many good, young divers and it’s not up to me alone to make this program better, because we’ve got good kids coming along and good coaching, so it’s just a team-wide thing.”

Coming into his senior season McCourt will be well prepared to continue his success. With conference, district and now state gold medals to show for his work, all McCourt can do is work to repeat the success that he’s had in the past.

“You can always do better,” said McCourt. “Unless you do every dive perfectly, there’s always room to work on things and that’s what I’ve been doing. I know how exciting it was to win at states and I don’t take that or any of the other competitions for granted.

Outside of high school competition, McCourt dives year-round and is a five-time USA Diving National Qualifier and was a finalist in one-meter diving at the 2018 Junior World Trials. Academically, McCourt has also conquered the classroom and is a member of the National Honor Society.

As for what lies ahead after high school, McCourt set an early course for making a college choice and has given a verbal commitment to the University of Texas to continue his diving and academic careers in college