North Salem HS alum Daniel McCormack trades the hardwood for the track at Capital University
When Daniel McCormack graduated from North Salem High School in 2019, his future felt fairly well mapped out. He was headed for Capital University, a small, private university in Columbus, Ohio, where he had been recruited to play for their Division III basketball team.
Earning a spot on a collegiate basketball team felt like a natural next step for McCormack, the 6’8 athlete who had been involved with the sport since he was 5. He played North Salem Rec Basketball when he was little before moving on to play in middle and high school, in addition to travel basketball.
But as so often happens, life had other plans. The COVID-19 pandemic descended during McCormack’s freshman year, disrupting his season and making him rethink his priorities. And McCormack was developing friendships with members of the university’s close-knit track team. He started to envision a different path.
Last year, McCormack made the decision to trade his basketball shoes for track spikes. It was only the second time he had run track. He previously ran as a senior at North Salem High School as a way to maintain his off-season basketball fitness.
In his first season as a Capital Comet runner, McCormack medaled in the 2022 OAC spring championship. The taste of success was all the evidence McCormack needed to feel like he had made the right choice. He would always love basketball, but in track he felt like he had found his niche.
This weekend McCormack earned all conference honors at the Ohio Athletic Conference Indoor Championships in Berea, Ohio, placing third in the 4x200 relay, fourth in the 4x400 and third in the long jump. His jump, at 6.84 meters, was a personal record for McCormack and moved him from seventh on the program all-time list up to fourth.
McCormack’s father, Dan, had made the 9-hour drive to Ohio to watch his son compete. “I hadn’t seen Daniel run track since his senior year in high school. He’s a different kid now from when I saw him running in high school. It was pretty impressive. He’s definitely found his niche, that’s for sure.”
Next weekend McCormack will be part of a select group of Comets to participate in a ‘last chance meet,’ in the hopes of qualifying for nationals. McCormack will compete in the long jump.
“Whether he continues on and makes nationals, it doesn't matter to us,” said the elder McCormack. “It makes him happy and that’s what his mom and I really care about.”