October 31, 2008

Vasquez Hopes to Preserve Barons Winning Tradition

By John Philip Wyllie

The players on Bonita Vista’s water polo team have a valid excuse if they can’t remember the last time the Barons failed to win a league championship. Not even the current seniors were born 21 years ago, the last time the league banner was absent from the rafters of the Barons gym. Naturally, there is lot of pressure on the current team to keep that amazing unblemished streak intact. The job of motivating the players and keeping them from getting complacent falls at least partially on the broad shoulders of senior co-captain and First Team All-League selection Guillermo “Memo” Vasquez.

“I know a lot of the ex-players, my brother being one of them and my coach (Dan Way) being another. So there is some pressure and it keeps you on your toes. It is more of an exciting feeling than it is an anxious one. It will be an honor if we keep it up. I think we will repeat if we keep working the way we have been.”

Most water polo players begin as competitive swimmers, but not Vasquez.

“My older brother got me straight into water polo. I played basketball and learned to swim in Mexico where we lived when I was little, but I never swam there competitively. Now, I do, but only to keep in shape for water polo.”

"Memo" Vasquez dreams of one day representing Mexico in Water Polo. Photo: J.P. Wyllie

Vasquez and Jono Newman are the only returning starters from last year’s Mesa League champion squad, so it was only natural that the team’s in-the-pool leadership should fall to them.

“Jono has a more defensive role while I have a more offensive role, Vasquez explained. “I am also the one who has to be the disciplinarian. When somebody (has to be critical) and players need to be corrected it is usually my job. Jono leads more by example. My role in the pool is sort of the same as the point guard’s role in basketball or the quarterback in football. I control the ball and make most of the passes. I hold the ball and call out the play. I am also the leading scorer this year with about 25 goals. My best so far this year is six in one game.”

Vasquez has played competitive club and/or high school water polo for the last five years, but this year things are a little different.

“I’ve been on teams where I was the least experienced player, but this is a very young team and I am the most experienced player here. Jono and I are the only ones that also play club water polo (for the La Jolla Shores). The other guys are not very experienced, but it is still a good team. They are into it.”

The Barons opened the season (5-3) playing tough, non-league opponents. They placed eighth out of 32 teams in the Poway Invitational. How far they will go is anybody’s guess.

Vasquez plans to continue playing water polo well beyond his June high school graduation.

“I am looking more for the educational side of college. I’d like to go to UCSD, but they have a really competitive water polo team. So I’d like to stay with it in college, but that is not my main priority. A friend of mine attends Grossmont College and swims for the Mexican National Team. He thinks I should try out for that team when I am older so maybe I will.”

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