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Out Illinois State coach dives into new position
by Ross Forman, Windy City Times
2020-09-16

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Logan Pearsall, an accomplished college diver who has since transitioned into master's level diving, was competing at the 2017 FINA World Masters Championships in Budapest, Hungary. He was doing a challenging inward dive from a one-meter platform and admittedly "had been not doing it very well in warm-ups."

A diver from Italy and Pearsall were tied going into the last round and the Italian did his last dive very well, but it was a lower degree of difficulty. "The thought in my head was 'You're either going to hit the dive or hit the board trying,'" Pearsall said.

"I did the dive for 7.5/8s. which is really good and ended up beating him by just over one point. I looked over at him and he was completely in shock while I was extremely excited."

Pearsall has had plenty of magical moments in his diving career that included stops at three different colleges. And now he's also transitioned into a diving coach. A Pennsylvania native who graduated from Clarion University in 2010, he spent the past six years at Colorado Mesa University.

He accepted the diving coach job at Illinois State University ( ISU ) this summer and started leading the Redbirds in Normal on Aug. 20.

"My diving career has been an exciting one, that's for sure," said Pearsall, now 32 and living in Bloomington. "At Clarion, I was fortunate to win four NCAA titles while breaking the three-meter NCAA record twice. Since college, I have won 41 masters national titles. Diving has taken me all over the world and I am certainly fortunate for that. I have been able to become friends with people in so many different countries that I still talk to and stay connected with on social media, etc. It has been an incredible journey.

"I'm really excited for this opportunity to move into [NCAA] Division I with a coaching staff that is so absolutely supportive of diving and seeing it succeed. I really think with good coaching and recruiting, we have a gem in the making."

Pearsall said the two emotions that have been most prevalent since switching to ISU are excitement and fear. "I am very excited to move from DII to DI and prove myself and I know that I am capable of turning the program into one of the top in the Missouri Valley Conference and one that student-athletes are consistently looking at, but [also] the fear [that] always lingers in the back of one's mind. The 'what if' factor. I think that emotion is quickly being defeated each day that I am here with the coaching staff pushing me and the divers to be our best.

"My goals are to grow the team into a family, recruit top level athletes who can win [conference] championships and qualify for zones. Another goal of mine is to eventually have athletes regularly heading to the NCAA D1 National Championship."

He's proud to represent the LGBTQ+ community through sports.

"I think people seeing strong active leaders in athletics while being LGBT is helpful when they're either considering coming-out or looking for guidance," Pearsall said. "Being a voice in a community such as athletics as an LGBT individual has been rewarding in many aspects. I think it redefines what a leader looks like or means. I look forward to representing and contributing to the local community."

Pearsall was pushed to apply at ISU by his former swim coach at Colorado Mesa—and a perfect fit to move into the top-tiered Division I coaching ranks.

"I am very excited for a new beginning in Illinois and to close on my new house here. I have been a few times and have enjoyed getting to know my way around the state and the Bloomington/Normal area," said Pearsall, who has never, yet, been to Chicago. But that certainly will change soon as he has friends here and will be recruiting in the Chicago metro area, too.

"I am excited about getting to see all the things that make Chicago so amazing and why so many people love it," he said.

Pearsall's stint at Colorado Mesa included coaching his first NCAA National Champion and record-holder. He also led 34 All-Americans and 13 honorable mention All-Americans, "so I will always think of those athletes and the hard-work it took for them to get there."

Pearsall knows all about hard work. His diving career has been record-setting. The three favorite moments from his diving career are:

—"Hitting the water on my final dive at my first NCAA Championship, looking over to my coach [who was] jumping up and down, and then realizing I had just won my first NCAA National Championship."

—Being inducted into the Clarion University Sports Hall of Fame in 2019, with more than 50 family and friends present to support him.

—"After losing my final NCAA event by less than three points, which isn't very much in diving, I went up to the diver who had won and waited a bit while he celebrated to make sure that I personally got to congratulate him.

"My father who, bless his heart, has learned so much about the LGBT community over the last 15 years, came up to me and kissed me on the forehead and told me how proud of me he was, not only for taking the runner-up spot, but for being a man with pride but showing sportsmanship after defeat."

But is it scary to dive?

"I usually [try] to get my nerves out in warm-ups, but I habitually would get nervous for [select, challenging] dives," he said.

"When I started masters, I had just taken a year off from diving after college and I was certain that I was done and retired. I had met a few masters divers at a club meet in Connecticut while I was coaching and they did some convincing. After that, I started with one meet and dove as well, if not better, than my final meet in college, so I then went to master's nationals in 2014. Since then, I have been hooked and could not imagine not having my masters diving family. It is a family you only see a few times a year, but you're just so happy to see them and have a great time. We are able to stay in touch during the year and it truly is like having an extended family."

Pearsall said he still has two diving goals: "To compete at the USA Diving Senior Nationals one more time and stay doing masters diving for as long as possible while staying healthy and in love with the sport."


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