The city of Long Beach, Calif. is often called the “aquatic capital of America” and their hometown water polo team is once again among the ten best squads in the country. Long Beach State has a long and storied history in the sport of water polo and they are boasting a stout squad again this season. The 49ers are led by Gavin Arroyo who was one of the finest two-meter defenders in the history of the sport. Arroyo was a member of the United States National Team from 1993-2000 and competed in the Olympics in 1996 and 2000. A 1994 graduate of California, Arroyo won three NCAA Championships during his playing days at Berkeley.
Your team took some tough losses earlier in the campaign; however Long Beach State seems to be picking up steam as your squad just scored a nice win over NAIA power Concordia. What are your expectations for your team through the rest of the campaign?
Arroyo: The focus is on the day to day stuff. We need to learn how to handle both winning and losing and we are working on getting consistency. People see the end result but they often don’t understand the circumstances and injuries. We have a young group and because of that there has been some inconsistency and fragility.
Nick Rascon is an exceptional talent and is somebody who I would rate as being one of the top ten players in the country. What makes him such an outstanding player?
Arroyo: Nick is an extraordinary competitor. He has that X-factor that you want as he has the mental toughness and ability to win individual battles on both offense and defense. He is a phenomenal athlete and is the most talented player that I have had here at Long Beach.
Can you tell us about Aleksandr Petrovic and what makes him the great player that he is?
Arroyo: He comes from a Serbian background as he was a member of their Junior National team. Serbia is obviously a country that has been quite successful in water polo. Aleksandr fits well into our system. We want him to be the guy. We have been working with him on when to shoot and pass as we want him to continue getting better at reading and picking apart situations.