Jan. 16, 2011
By Matt Winkeljohn
John Ames has built enough of a resume to be considered one of the better college diving coaches in the nation, but to hear him tell it he’s an even better coach now that he has an assistant at Georgia Tech.
One problem: Brandon Makinson is not an assistant; he’s a diver for Tech, and fast becoming a very, very good one. That’s not all he’s good at, either. If Makinson opts out of aerospace engineering, maybe he could be a psychologist or a salesman. Actually, his skill set might translate nicely into coaching.
The sophomore from Alberta, Canada, went undefeated over the weekend, easily winning the one- and three-meter competitions in dual meets Friday at Davidson and Saturday at N.C. State.
That was hardly new. Makinson helps the Yellow Jackets by doing more than scoring.
“He’s got a very level head. He understands what he needs to do to get ready for a meet. He knows how to prepare himself, and when he’s made a mistake in that preparation, he’ll be the first one to say it afterward,” Ames said. “He’s very funny. He’s very easy to get along with.
“He wants everybody to enjoy themselves. On multiple occasions, he’s told me that at times when things are a little stressful and I may not be as easy-going as I should be, he kind of talks to me and says, `It’s not fun right now.’ He’s got the personality, and the ability to come up to me and talk to me.”
Ames, whose prospects in the Atlanta Diving Association won three national titles last year in the college offseason, tutored the best diver in Tech history. Evan Stowers in 2006 became the first Jacket diver to make it to the NCAA meet.
Makinson matched that last year, making the nationals in the 3-meter springboard competition.
He appears to be on track to do that again, as the postseason is a few weeks away.
Makinson’s 3-meter score of 387.75 Saturday at N.C. State was without shouting range of Stowers’ school record of 395-plus.
“All year long he’s pretty much has done the same thing, in the dual meets, especially,” Ames said. “One way to let you know how well he’s done, with the exception for the invitational he has scored higher in every dual meet than he did in any dual meet last year. He’s been flirting with the record in every meet, especially the 3-meter. His degree of difficulty is higher on the 3-meter.
“I know that he made incredible improvement his last year of high school, and then last year here. If he was as good starting the recruiting process as he is now, he would have had offers all over the country. It would have been a lot more of a fight to get him.”
Makinson is uncommonly tall for a top-notch diver at 6-feet, and strength is, well, his strength.
Then again, depending on your perspective, perhaps his greatest trait comes in massaging relationships.
“Al the other divers know it,” Ames said. “The other divers . . . probably send Brandon to me when they want to get out of something. Not everybody can do that. It takes a special person who has that ability. I attribute it to mentally he knows what he needs for himself, and he gets an idea what the other divers need. He’s kind of an assistant coach.”