When University of Utah head diving coach Richard Marschner heard that Clemson University was getting rid of its women’s diving team and that their recruits were looking for new places to call home, he contacted a club coach in Illinois to talk about one specific athlete — Emma Ruchala.
“[We] asked him about Emma and he gave me great recommendations and said she would be a great fit for the team,” Marschner said.
That phone call motivated Marschner to invite Ruchala to Utah.
“She was definitely someone we wanted,” Marschner said. “So we went after her.”
Ruchala, who has been diving since eighth grade, had been previously been contacted by Utah before deciding she wanted to attend Clemson. Marschner noticed that there was something special in the way she dove and he believes having her as a Ute has benefited the team.
“I just noticed how strong she was,” Marschner said. “How quickly and easily it was for her to flip and [be a] natural thing.”
Ruchala was upset at the announcement of the removal of the sports program that she had committed to, but as the Utah coaching staff reached out to her, she saw the potential for her to grow as an athlete and a student in the Pac-12 Conference. She knew she wouldn’t only be spending time in the water, but in the classroom as well, earning her degree in nursing.
“I’m really excited to have the opportunity to come here, and I have so many great things I can do for Richard,” Ruchala said. “And I like the team here so it ended up working out for the better.”
Only a handful of meets into its season, Marschner said Ruchala has already surprised the coaches because she’s more talented and is capable of accomplishing more than they originally thought she was.
Her talents in the pool have shown Marschner that she will impact the team this season. And he is looking forward to seeing her shine.
“She’s going to do really well this year,” Marschner said. “She’s got the ability to do some really good stuff and she hasn’t even scratched the surface.”
Since arriving at Utah, the freshman has quickly discovered how being in this new environment is going to help her improve as an athlete, and she is ready to take advantage of that.
“I feel like diving in college is a lot harder and I’ve gotten a lot better since I’ve been here,” Ruchala said. “There’s a little bit more pressure because everything is a lot more competitive than high school.”
The four-time High School State Finalist and 2017 Senior Female Athlete of the Year is looking forward to the rest of her career at Utah. While Marschner said she only needed some refinement with technical skills upon her arrival, he believes she will make strides as a Ute and her successful high school days will turn into rewarding college days.
“From high school to college it’s going to be night and day,” Marschner. “She left so much on the table in high school, and she has so much room to grow. I don’t even know if you can compare. She’s going to be a different diver in college it’s going to be way different. She’s going to be phenomenally better than she was there.”