Feb. 23, 2005
By Scott MacDonald
Last winter Georgia Tech diving coach John Ames watched a young student-athlete perform some dives at the Junior Olympic Zone Meet. That athlete was Evan Stowers. Knowing that he had only been diving for two plus seasons, Ames decided to make an offer based on the tremendous upside for Stowers.
“I recruited Evan based on a tape that he sent to me,” said Tech diving coach John Ames. “His mechanics were rough, but he showed an extraordinary amount of potential with his ability to jump and spin. The most impressive thing I’ve seen with Evan is how quickly he has improved; from the tape I received at the end of his junior year of high school to now is amazing. I’m just getting to know Evan as a person and as an athlete, and I know the future will bring great things for him.”
And the rest is history. Stowers is vaulting over the competition through the swimming and diving season. He currently holds NCAA Zone qualifying marks on both the one- and three-meter springboards. Stowers posted the fourth best three-meter, six-dive mark (347.10) in the Atlantic Coast Conference against Tennessee and holds the ninth-best tally on the one-meter board (300.35).
“Evan’s biggest strength is his ability to make the harder dives look effortless,” said Ames. “His weakness is his lack of experience, he has only been diving three years.”
These accomplishments might never have happened if Stowers had chosen to continue with basketball. A two-sport star at Simon Kenton High School in Independence, Ky., Stowers had to make a decision on what he wanted to pursue in college. That decision came in the middle of his senior season.
“I had a decision on my hands after I finished fourth at the state championships my sophomore season,” said Stowers. “I joined a club team during my junior season and started to think I could do this [diving] in college. My senior season, I had some differences with my basketball coach, and since the club team conflicted with basketball, I decided to quit basketball and focus on diving.”
Focusing on diving must have come to a shock to most people in Kentucky. Basketball is a way of life in the hoops state. His father, Jeff Stowers, played basketball at Northern Kentucky, an NCAA Division II school. Furthering those basketball roots was his two older brothers, Keith Green and Brenden Stowers, playing basketball at Northern Kentucky like their father. His third older brother, Jordan Stowers, is currently a senior at Northern Kentucky. So choosing something different than competing on the flats was new to the whole family.
“I started playing basketball when I was five or six years old,” said Stowers. “But I felt like diving was going to be my future.”
With all the recent success in diving, why not? Schools such as North Carolina, Virginia Tech, Kentucky and Missouri came calling, along with Georgia Tech.
“I made a visit to [Georgia Tech’s] campus and witnessed the facilities first hand,” said Stowers. “The pool was the best I’d ever seen and probably one of the best in the country. That, combined with the school, the athletes and coach Ames, I committed.”
Georgia Tech is reaping all the benefits of Stowers’ decision. For the first time since coach Ames took over the diving program in 2001-02, the Yellow Jackets have four divers that push one another in practice. Along with those four divers, is a talented one-two punch in sophomore Tony Burkhardt and Stowers.
“It’s been great having someone [Tony Burkhardt] in practice to push you,” said Stowers. “It’s very competitive in practice and meets and he and I challenge one another everyday.”
The Yellow Jackets are preparing to host the Men’s ACC Championships this week, Feb. 23-26, where the Jackets divers will be able to showcase their talents in front of the home crowd. Tech will also host the NCAA Zone B Diving Championships, Match 11-13, an event that he has already qualified for. In his sights, is the opportunity to become the first Tech diver to advance to the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships.
“My direct goals are to become All-ACC and qualify for the NCAA Championships,” said Stowers. “Right now I just want to continue to work hard and get better so that I might get that chance.”