Annual game brings old faces back to campus
THE SANTA CLARA
October 24, 2013
Previous Santa Clara water polo players returned to the Sullivan Aquatic Center on Sunday afternoon and donned their speedos once again for the alumni game.
Players gathered at the pool deck for the event, which has become an important tradition in linking the current players to those who have come before.
The game has a different meaning to everyone in the program. Red- shirt senior Jimmy Moore looked forward to the annual homecoming because it presented a chance to interact with former teammates.
“It’s just fun to get back into the water and play with those guys again, that’s my favorite part,” said Moore.
However, the game does much more than reunite old friends.
For many of the alumni returning to the pool, the game provided a chance to give back to a program that was instrumental in forming them into the men they are today.
One such returning alumnus, Dan O’Connell from the graduating class of 2002, still feels a strong connection to the program. He comes to the events not only to catch up with old friends, but also to serve the next generation of athletes.
“It’s important for us to stay connected,” said O’Connell. “I want to maintain a connection to the program and to the team.”
The former Broncos ended up winning the game 7-2, proving that they still can teach the current players a thing or two inside the confines of the pool.
Outside of the water, the alumni act as role models and guides for the current players.
Jeff Welsch ‘10 comes to the event because he wants to be a part of the mentorship effort that helps the current Broncos find their way.
“The program helps you develop and become better, and it’s great to see that perpetuate while helping the young guys get better,” said Welsch. “That’s why I’m here.”
The opportunity for mentorship is important especially to the youngest members of the current squad. Freshman Graham McClone loved his first taste of the alumni game.
“It’s an awesome opportunity to get to see the experienced players who have graduated and to get some words of wisdom from them,” said McClone.
After the game itself, the team and alumni gathered with friends and family for a barbeque.
Former and current players mingled and all of the alumni were able to catch up with Keith Wilbur, their former head coach. With 12 years in charge of the men’s water polo program, Wilbur is one of the things that almost all of the players have in common.
“I try to stay connected to all of these guys after they graduate,” said Wilbur. “So it’s great to see them and be able to catch up.”
Wilbur and the Broncos returned to competitive action on Sunday against the No. 2-ranked University of California, Los Angeles. The Bruins defeated the Broncos 16-2. Later that afternoon, Santa Clara beat West Valley College 11-10 in an exhibition match.
The squad will continue its season this week against teams from California Baptist University, Harvard University, Brown University, Concordia University, Irvine and Bucknell University.
Contact Matt Pierson at email@example.com.