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Senior Spotlight: Brightyn Zuelke, Bay Port Girls Diving

BY RICH PALZEWIC
CORRESPONDENT


Brightyn Zuelke is a senior member of the Bay Port girls diving team. Most recognized by her long, flowing red hair, Zuelke is the reigning Fox River Classic Conference diver of the year and finished 20th at the WIAA state meet a season ago. Brightyn is not quite sure where she will attend college quite yet, but would like to study physical therapy and dive if the opportunity presents itself. In her free time, Zuelke likes to read, spend time with family, play the oboe and is also a drum major in the band.
Name: Brightyn Zuelke
Parents: Tricia & Jason Zuelke
School: Bay Port
Sport: diving
Twitter: @brightyn_z
Congratulations! You’re the first diver that’s every appeared in the senior spotlight! “Thank you…that’s huge!”
Have you participated in any other high school sports? “I did track my freshman year, but that’s it for high school.”
What event did you do in track? “I pole vaulted.”
You must have a swimming background? “Absolutely not! I am not a good swimmer at all, but if you ask most Olympic divers, they are not swimmers, either. I can swim enough to get out of the pool!”
How did you get started diving? “I have a gymnastics background and had been doing that from age 4 until freshman year. I got hurt three times in a short period of time, so my mom recommended diving. She was a diver at Stevens Point.”
Speaking of your mom, what’s it like having her as your dive coach? “I really enjoy it, because she understands my learning style. From my perspective, she may be harder on me because I’m her daughter; but my mom is a very fair coach.”
What was the transition like from gymnastics to diving? “There were some aspects that were easy and some that were hard. I had body awareness in the air, but in gymnastics you want to go forward, while in diving you want to go up.”
When did you start diving then? “Not until the summer between my freshman and sophomore year.”
How about a sport you wish you could have done? “I’ve always liked dance or maybe soccer.”
What’s with the warm tub of water on the pool deck that you ladies go into between dives? “That’s our lifeline! The pool is pretty cold, so that ‘hot tub’ allows us to stay warm and keep our muscles loose. We don’t get to swim laps to stay warm.”
And you can’t swim very well anyway! “Right!”
Last year, you, Ella Thibert and Sasha Sliwinski swept the FRCC all-conference honors…can you do it again this season? How about a repeat as FRCC diver of the year for you? “I believe we will be able to take 1-2-3 in conference again. I’m hoping and working hard to be the conference diver of the year again, but my teammates are, too. I think my biggest challenge there will be from my teammates.”
Have you ever platform dived? “I’ve played with it when I went to camp in Iowa…I’ve jumped off a 7 and 10-meter platform, but never dove off them. The platform obviously has no give – it’s all muscle.”
What’s the difference between platform and springboard? “Imagine the difference between a trampoline and a concrete driveway. The trampoline is a springboard and the concrete is a platform.”
Would you ever high dive off a cliff? “I don’t think I could ever do anything higher than a 10-meter!”
What is your most memorable diving moment? “When I placed fourth at sectionals last year. After I did my last dive, I thought maybe it was good enough to qualify for state. I qualified 24th out of 24 and made it to state!”
How about a most embarrassing diving moment? “I was warming up for a meet and my foot slipped and I scraped up my whole shin; there was skin on the board – it was really gross!”
Have you ever totally bombed a dive in competition? “At the Ashwaubenon Invite last year. My approach was off and I was on the corner of the board. I took off for my reverse 1 ½ and I landed flat on my back in the water. They disqualified the dive, but I still finished fifth.”
Have you ever gotten up there and just wanted to do a belly flop or a cannonball to see the reaction of the judges? “Not a belly flop because that would hurt! Honestly, I’ve never gotten up there and wanted to do a cannonball, either!”
Have you ever hit the board on a dive? “No, never. It’s more common that you think, but I’ve never done it.”
Do you have any siblings? “I have twin brothers who are freshmen this year. Austin is a golfer and Dylan plays tennis.”
Do you do golf and play tennis with them? “I golfed until I was in fourth grade, but that’s when I started doing handstands down the fairway. In tennis my brother always laughs at me because I can’t hit the ball.”
What is something about most people wouldn’t know? “I’ve donated my hair five times!”
When’s the last time you’ve donated? “After the season sophomore year.”
When will you donate again? “Either at the end of this year or right before college starts next year.”
What three words best describe you? “Personable, responsible, leader.”
Which teammate could survive in the wilderness for a week? “Elise Keller because she’s a vegan or a vegetarian, or Jilian Shipley because she’s very resourceful.”
Fall or spring? “Spring.”
Lie on the beach or ski down the slopes? “Lie on the beach.”
Puppies or kittens? “Puppies.”
Fruits or veggies? “Fruits.”
Tiny house or tree house? “Tree house.”
Favorites
Author: Ally Carter or Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Athlete: British diver Tom Daley
App: Instagram
Movie: Tangled
Ice cream: anything with chocolate in it
Coach Tricia Zuelke’s comments: “People actually say I am a bit harder on Brightyn than the others because she is my daughter. At the pool I am ‘Coach’ and at home I am ‘Mom.’ We really have to trust each other. Brightyn loves her team; the swimmers and divers are so very important to her. I am so glad she is a part of such a great group of ladies! Brightyn is focused, determined and head-strong. Last year she competed at state with girls who had been diving for ten-plus years.”
Notes: suggestions for the Senior Spotlight can be submitted to Rich via email ([email protected]) or by Twitter (@richpalzewic)… all senior spotlights can be found online at thepress.media… check out Griffin Pecore’s spotlight online from last week.

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