WARREN, Pa. – Warren Area High School’s Katie Madigan is a quick study.
In just two years, she decided to start diving, won a District 10 championship, a state medal and earned a scholarship to Clarion University, where she will continue her academic and athletic career.
It also helps that she’s a natural athlete, starring on the volleyball court, softball field as well. She was also a gymnast until her freshman year of high school. She combines fierce competitiveness in sports with a kind and caring personality outside of the athletic arena.
So what made her decide to get into diving?
“I decided to give diving a try during my sophomore year because I think I was missing gymnastics,” Madigan said. “I had been a gymnast since I was four years old and had to make the tough decision to give it up at the start of my freshman year because I was playing three other varsity sports. I missed challenging my body in ways that only gymnastics and now diving can. I guess I’m happiest when I’m flipping and twisting in the air.”
Of course, she was a natural, and Madigan has loved it since the moment she first took it up.
“Diving is so fun!” she said. “I love pushing myself and challenging my body to acquire new and harder skills. I’m never satisfied. In diving, there’s always room for improvement.”
She also attributes competing in multiple sports to her quick success on the diving board, with each sport challenging her in different ways.
“I think being a multi-sport athlete has helped to make me a well-rounded competitor,” she said. “Each sport works your body in different ways and leads to increased speed, agility, and balance. Gymnastics has probably helped me the most as it gave me the body awareness and confidence needed to be a good diver.”
And it didn’t take her coaches very long to realize she was a natural, either.
“I loved diving the very first time I tried it,” Madigan said. “With the help of my first diving coach, Adrienne Barmore, I began acquiring dives very quickly. She said I was a natural.”
Her junior, ending with a fourth-place finish at the PIAA championships got her thinking this is something she could do beyond high school. Her success also attracted the attention of college coaches.
“It wasn’t until the success I experienced in my second year of diving as a junior, did I realize that diving was definitely the sport that I wanted to pursue in college and that I might actually be good enough to do it at the collegiate level,” she said.
And she’s very thankful for those that have helped her pursue that dream.
“My biggest influences have been Adrienne, Howard Brooke and my dad. (Matt),” she said. “They have been my coaches since I started. Adrienne taught me all my fundamentals, Howard taught me to believe in myself, and my dad has always believed in me and taught me to never give up.”
And next year, she’ll make the 60-mile trip South to Clarion, a program known for its success in the pool. That prowess is something that Madigan noticed right away and helped steer her to be a Golden Eagle and diving coach Heath Calhoun, as well as head coach Brehan Kelley and assistant coach Rebecca Wilkerson.
“I was immediately drawn to Clarion because they have a very competitive diving program,” she said. “They have a history of producing national champions year after year. Last month, I had a chance to spend some time with their diving team and I loved their coach, the brand new facility, and the team members. I knew right away that Clarion was for me. It felt like home.”
Madigan is a complete student-athlete, excelling in the classroom. And it’s her mom, Erica, that’s been a big influence on what she will study in college.
“I’m going to major in Speech-Language Pathology,” Katie said. “My mom is a pediatric speech pathologist who opened her own practice. I’ve been lucky enough to see her changing the lives of children every day. This has definitely inspired me to follow in her footsteps so that I can carry on the wonderful work that she began so many years ago.”
Before she goes on to college, however, there’s still her senior diving season to look forward to. And Madigan has her sights set high.
“This year I hope to perfect my board work and my technique which will improve my current dive list and allow me to acquire new and harder dives,” she said. “I also want to break my own school records, win another D10 title, and place even higher at states.”
When that’s all done and her senior year is complete, she has plenty that she is looking forward to in the next chapter of her life at Clarion.
“Academically, I’m looking forward to gaining the skills and knowledge needed to become a great speech therapist,” she said. “I’m looking forward to having opportunities to help people who are facing challenges.
“As far as diving goes, I can’t wait to begin working on a highly competitive 3-meter dive list. I’m looking forward to focusing solely on my diving. I can’t wait to see what I can achieve with college coaching and training and more time on the board.”