You’ll Have To Get Up Pretty Early To Beat Miramonte
Capturing the first glimpses of morning sunlight hitting the unwrinkled surface of the Bill Brown Aquatic Center is a beautiful sight for human eyes.
However, the still-sleepy faces of the young men about to enter these magic waters seem to be looking well past the majesty of the moment. It’s 5:58 a.m and time for water polo. Their vision is likely set a little further out, to the horizon of the season ahead. Knowing the chance at greatness lies in challenges far larger than jumping into a brisk pool.
We’re that team everyone would love to beat, after all. High bars have been set in the Miramonte history books, including being named ESPN’s best high school water polo team in the country in 2008. Mats’ faces are still pinned on locker room dart boards across the state.
Mats fans have been holding their breath waiting for the next Charlie “winning shot” Wiser. Or for another Olympic goalie and Stanford superstar, like Drew Holland. Big shoes to fill. Or should I say, big flip-flops with socks? Expectations are set to a pretty high water-mark around these parts.
Feels like a heavy burden treading water with so much expectation riding on one’s shoulders, however Coach John Nash seems unfazed.
“We really try to be process-oriented and focus on improving one day at a time,” he said. “If the coaches and players maximize each practice and playing opportunity, then we can ultimately live with whatever results we achieve.”
Carrying this 1,000-pound torch is a full field of 12 seasoned seniors: Nick Bea, Jack Behles, Max Chua, Henry Engs, Grant Kurtz, Asher Menke, Beckett Randolph, Oliver Sherwood, Luke Wagner, Lucas Washburn, Lôn Washburn and Ethan Yu.
All are swimming chess pieces for Coaches Nash and Lincoln Haley. Nash won four NCS Championships during his time at Miramonte and Lincoln, also an alumnus, is the former head coach just over the hill at Acalanes. Together they have strategic superpowers the team seems to respond well to.
“We always strive to be the best defensive team on the North Coast,” said Nash. “Defense is an effort skill and it translates to play-off water polo.”
Hopefully that evolves into beating the dreaded De La Salle Spartans, who knocked the Mats out of the NCS finals the last two years.
Although early morning practices can start off a bit foggy, the dual coaches’ vision for the program is anything but.
“As alums who played for Bill Brown and James Lathrop, we’re just trying to continue to build on the outstanding infrastructure those two phenomenal coaches built here,” said Nash.
Brown and Lathrop are big reasons both Nash and Haley want to give back to Miramonte. Lucky for us.
It takes a village to raise a championship team, after all.
Mark Bell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.