The nations top 16 teams will be participating in the KAP7 NorCal Classic next weekend, September 20-21 at University of Pacific. USC men's water polo great, Peter Kurzeka '12 explains the importance of doing well at the beginning of the season
2010 NCAA Tournament MVP
4 x NCAA Champion
3 x All American
KAP7: What is your gameday routine (wake up to game time)?
Kurzeka: Up early – at least 3 hours before game time, quick stretch. Quick rinse off, healthy breakfast, team meeting, full stretch, in water for warm up.
KAP7: When do you begin developing chemistry with your teammates (practice, library, team dinners, etc)?
Kurzeka: The more time in and out of the water spent together led to the best chemistry. My teammates, fortunately, were all of my closest friends so it was probably harder to find me at a time where I wasn't with one or some of the guys.
KAP7: Why is it important to do well in early season tournaments?
Kurzeka: The NCAA water polo sport is incredibly competitive. With such a small amount of teams making the final tournament at the end of the year, more often than not, the team that goes over the one that doesn't is usually decided by a game or two – making each game as important as the next.
KAP7: How did early season tournaments help prepare freshmen and younger teammates for the rest of the season?
Kurzeka: The great thing about the NorCal tournament was that younger players immediately got that “big game” experience as all the best teams from around the nation are present
KAP7: At USC, what do you believe was the key to you and your team winning consecutive NCAA championships?
Kurzeka: I came in at a time where everyone was ready to buy into the system our coaching staff was preaching. When you have an influx of talent like we did coupled with guys who understand the game at a high level, it usually yields results. It reminds me of the Spurs and what that dynasty has been able to do over the past decade or so under Popovich’s system.
KAP7: What is your fondest memory of playing water polo at USC?
Kurzeka: It’s hard to pin point an exact memory, but coming home from winning the ’09 championship on the East Coast on an early Sunday morning to the SC band playing the Fight Song at LAX will always stick with me.
KAP7: How has the water polo helped you in your career and life?
Kurzeka: For one, it surrounded me with teammates who are still some of my closest friends to date. Grinding out trainings and championship runs brings an awesome level of friendship that’s hard to find. The sport itself required an unbelievable demand, both physically and mentally, that tore you apart and embarrassed you if you didn't figure things out quickly. That, I feel, has translated to success in being able to transition into all the different ventures of post-sport life.