Bumped. GO BRUINS. -N
This morning I had the privilege and honor of attending the 2009 Women's Water Polo Banquet after being invited by a friend who is a huge fan and close with the team. I know that the basketball and football ceremonies get a lot of love here on BN, but I wanted to share this with everyone because of the tremendous accomplishments we have seen from these Lady Bruins, and because this was Coach Adam Krikorian's last hurrah as well since he is leaving to go coach the US Women's National Team starting next year (he will still remain as the Men's Water Polo Head Coach).
It was a fairly small and imtimate gathering, with mostly players, coaches, families, and affiliates like trainers and counselors. Coach K started off by reading an email from athletic counselor Aaron Giacosa, who really wanted to be there but apparently missed his flight. He then announced all of the players who received 3.0s during Fall and Winter quarters as well as those with overall GPAs of 3.0 or higher, and there were quite a few, including a very impressive and team-leading 3.7 overall GPA.
Coach K then talked about this season, and really his entire time here at UCLA. He started off by repeating what he said last Sunday, that this was quite possibly the most improbable championship given how young the team was and how much talent graduated last year. He recapped the regular season, and I could not help but be reminded of CBH and his approach as he talked about improving as the season went on and peaking at the right time. He mentioned using $C and Stanford as measuring sticks as the season went along, and even though we lost to both of them in the final weeks of the regular season, he could tell that we had more than a chance, we just needed to learn how to seal the deal (btw, did you know that our loss to Hawai'i this year was our first loss to a team not named Stanford or U$C since 2000? Absolutely unbelievable). He even quoted the last man to give us such a dynasty, Coach Wooden, about being prepared and playing to your potential when referring to the final two games. As a side note, he took a breif moment to comment on his new job, but did say that he will be doing it from right here on campus (perhaps meaning that the national team will be doing its training here? Because that would be pretty cool).
Then came the part about the Stanford and $C games in the championships. It was so interesting to hear it form a coach's perspective, because he believed that the Stanford game was not won in the pool, but the night before in the team meeting. He said that he walked out of that meeting, turned to one of his assistants, and said, "We're going to win this match." It was very inspirational stuff. He called the game one of the greatest in NCAA history, and took time to laugh about how he almost blew it with the timeout incident. He then turned to the championship game, which he called the greatest defensive effort he has ever been a part of, making sure to shower plenty of praise on goalkeeper Brittany Fullen for her phenominal effort.
Next came the senior speeches by Anne Beldin, Brittany Fullen, Tanya Gandy, and Katie Rulon, who finished their careers a mind-boggling 115-12 and join the previous class as the only women athletes in history to graduate with 4 NCAA Championships. This was followed by a highlight video, and when the clips of the Stanford game-winning goal and the final moments of the U$C game were played, the entire room burst into cheers. Coach K got up one more time and talked about the future of the program, how he expects the success to continue, and how the keys are recruiting, leadership, and focus.
The afternoon ended with a Bruin cheer and an 8-clap lead by yours truly. Afterwards I went up to Coach K to congratulate him on his 5th straight, wish him the best of luck with his new job, and thank him for keeping the now 15 year streak of UCLA championships alive. It was a wonderful experience and a fitting end to one of the most memorable championship seasons in UCLA history.
So once again, congratulations to Coach Krikorian and the Lady Bruins on their 5th straight NCAA Women's Water Polo Championship!