A group of Malibu High Sharks boys water polo players were honored on a foreign pool deck last week.
Sharks 12th graders Charles Beck, Owen Campos, Mattia DeCarlo, Theo Detweiler, Will Guthrie, Chase Kelly, Ocean Mason and Chris Rucker Jensen were recognized during the team’s senior night ceremony on Oct. 31.
But there was a twist. Instead of holding senior night at the Malibu High pool before their contest against Tri-Valley League foe Foothill Tech, Malibu had to face Foothill Tech at Buena Park High School in Ventura because school was canceled at Malibu High due to wildfires. The Sharks’ seniors were celebrated after their 6-4 loss to Foothill Tech.
Detweiler, 17, said it was a struggle to have senior night at opponent’s pool.
“But so many of our friends and family made the drive up to the school,” he said. “So, I still felt at home.”
Sharks head coach Hayden Goldberg said the situation was weird.
“But we played well, and I couldn’t ask for anything more,” the coach added.
The game marked an end to a season that featured Malibu not really bonding as a team until they had already been in the pool against several teams. The match also proceeded the first round CIF Southern Section Division III Tournament matchup against the Woodrow Wilson Bruins on Tuesday in Long Beach. The Bruins entered the playoffs as the division’s top seed.
Goldberg, a longtime assistant coach before becoming the boys team’s head coach last season, said recently the Sharks were playing well in the later half of the regular season and the team’s seniors were standing out in the pool. The coach wishes he had at least another month to coach the seniors because he said the eight are in a groove.
“They all got to put their pieces of the puzzle together,” he said. “I saw some good leadership. Their younger teammates will remember them well.”
Detweiler said he, his classmates and the whole team found their mojo after Goldberg took them on a team-bonding trip to the beach.
“We talked about roles and what we wanted from season,” the center said. “That was a turning point. It was kind of a cleanse. He asked us how we saw ourselves on the team. I think everyone really liked that.”
The season’s first half featured more defeats than a Sharks water polo squad normally accumulates, but in the recent weeks the squad was netting victory after victory over league foes.
Goldberg said winning is great after losing close contests and being handed blowout losses.
“If you are on the other side of the spectrum, and you are winning those one-point games, those two-point games,” he said, “everybody is happy.”
During the Malibu Varsity Tournament in late September, the senior Campos said he and his teammates wanted to win and have fun. Detweiler echoed his classmate’s statement and called the Sharks seniors wide-ranging.
“Outside of the pool, you wouldn’t know that we all know each other so well, but we have been playing together for a long time,” he said. “We know each other really well and can joke around. We have good chemistry in the pool.”