Texas snow greets McCourt
Every college freshman has adjustments to make to get used to their new environment. The presence of the pandemic has added to the difficulty and has made facing those changes even more difficult. In the case of Brendan McCourt and his first season at the University of Texas, the adjustments didn’t stop with classes, a higher level of competition and a pandemic that sent him into quarantine twice.
McCourt found himself amid an event that made national news when a freak Texas snowstorm and extended period of cold temperatures hit the Lone Star State and caused the loss of water and extensive power outages.
All of this came as McCourt and his teammates were battling their way through a season that would end with a national championship and McCourt finishing 16th in the country in one-meter diving.
“It was a really weird season and all of the things going on made training really tough,” said McCourt. “It was amazing to go through the season with my teammates and wind up as national champions, especially in my freshman season and with everything that was going on.”
The one-meter board, which is used in high school, was McCourt’s forte coming into his college career. College divers also have three-meter boards, which McCourt was familiar with, and both five and 10-meter platform diving events, which held less familiarity for McCourt.
Initially, McCourt was not a fan of platform diving, but he came into the season with an open mind and worked on his five-meter skills throughout the season. He has yet to delve into the 10-meter tower because of a mild shoulder injury.
“Really, I didn’t expect to final at the NCAA competition and if I did, my coaches and I thought it would have been in the three-meter diving,” said McCourt. “It was great because my parents came down for the NCAAs [in Greensboro, N.C.]. Even though they couldn’t attend the events in person, the parents were there to cheer us on when we left the hotel, so it was great to have them there cheering with the other parents.”
When the snow came, McCourt initially thought it was “really cool” because he was used to snow. The day after the storm hit it seemed like the entire campus was outside to experience something that was unfamiliar to most of the students at the University of Texas. Then, the reality of the storm hit, and the campus lost water and electricity.
“We were only out for a short time, but I have friends who lost water for a couple of weeks and didn’t have power,” McCourt said.
In addition to focusing on his training, McCourt has worked hard in the classroom. As a chemistry major, McCourt has a challenging list of classes and time management has been difficult, especially at first.
Just as McCourt had things down, he faced quarantine in November and again in January, thankfully not contracting the coronavirus either time. February brought the snow and cold weather, and March brought the home stretch of the season and Texas’ drive to a record 15th national championship making for another difficult month.
“I was fortunate because I have great teammates and friends and a big support system that helped get me through it all,” said McCourt. “I also got to come home at Thanksgiving and Christmas to see my family and they were here for the NCAAs, so that helped a lot. Hopefully, next season won’t be quite as weird.”
As for his old friends at Emmaus, McCourt was aware of his old teammates finishing second in the team standings at states and was excited for them.
“That was so great,” McCourt said. “I’m so happy for them because I know how hard they work and it’s such a great accomplishment.”