Tue, Aug 31 2010 04:02 AM Posted By: Phillip Brents
Success doesn’t come with any set formula. Usually, there is someone — either a parent, relative, minister, teacher, benefactor or, in the case of a sports team, a coach — who serves as a portal of inspiration or role model.
Such was the case with Eastlake High School boys water polo coach Chris Barrick, who readily admits he’s simply carrying on a tradition from his own youth by being someone who makes a difference.
Barrick grew up in the South Bay and attended Hilltop High School, graduating in 1980.
“I played water polo for Greg Ormsby who taught me and our team how to be champions,” said Barrick, who took over the head coaching duties at EHS in 2005. “In the summers, we would play club ball for Denny Harper, who is now the head coach at UCSD. Greg and Denny had a huge influence on me and are the primary reason I’m coaching today.
Through our hard work, Hilltop won league titles every year I was there (against Coronado) and won its only CIF water polo title in 1980 — the season after I graduated.”
Barrick earned all-CIF team honors his senior year. He played water polo at Mesa College, then transferred to SDSU where he discovered to his dismay that the men’s water polo program had been shelved due to Title IX. He graduated in 1985 with a bachelor of arts in history.
“The life lessons I learned through polo served me well through 25 years in the construction industry,” Barrick said. “I have been fortunate to own my own business and have the time to give back and teach the lessons I learned to a new generation of South Bay kids.”
The water polo program at Eastlake had begun to develop from its original embryonic state before Barrick’s arrival, but he has added a level of stability and support that has clearly taken the Titans to a new, exciting level.
“Water polo is a very physically demanding sport and takes not only hard work but perseverance and dedication to a team,” Barrick said. “It truly is a ‘team’ sport where everything you do directly affects the other five players in the pool with you. To be successful as a team, every individual has to work for the betterment of the entire unit. Selfishness goes out the window and the kids learn how to function as a unit. These are great life lessons, no matter what career path these kids take.”
Eastlake has won the last two Mesa League championships but has yet to win its first playoff game. That could change soon
“I believe we have established ourselves as a solid, competitive high school program that should compete for a league title every year,” Barrick said. “We have a solid club program — the Sunset Water Polo Club — that is teaching the fundamentals of the game to a fairly good sized group of South Bay kids. For instance, Hilltop, Montgomery, Eastlake and Bonita Vista had athletes participate this year.”
Barrick has had a son and daughter go through the water polo program at EHS. He said he’ll be there for the program as long as his services are desired.
“This is my sixth season coaching Eastlake and I’m very excited about the group I have this year,” he said. “Our underclassmen have committed to training and have improved dramatically as a team. We are still young with only one senior starter, Ian Muhlbach, this year, but I expect this group to play with the top eight Division I schools in CIF this year. I believe it is Eastlake's best group of underclassmen since I’ve been coaching here.”
The Titans junior starters include Adam Hilborn, Mike Tong, Rhett McGinty (goalie) and Eric Hum. Josue Alvarez is a sophomore, but has established himself as a solid starter, according to the EHS coach.
“We have a couple of other underclassmen who are also improving and will see considerable playing time off the bench,” Barrick said. Those players include sophomore Daniel Lord and juniors Tyler Rowean and Kevin Cochrane.
Barrick isn’t the only one who is giving back to the program. Austin Legg, a 2005 EHS alum, currently is coaching the junior varsity program and has been coaching alongside Barrick for the past three years.
“He is becoming a very competent water polo coach,” Barrick assessed. “His off-season club coaching dedication has honed his understanding of coaching strategies and he will be a good high school coach in the future. I’m fortunate to have him as an assistant.”
That the Titans have garnered the success they have without the luxury of an on-campus pool is a tribute to the hard work and dedication of not only the current players and coaching staff but all those who preceded them.
“The future of the water polo program at Eastlake is bright and with our foundation, we should be a consistent competitive program for years,” Barrick said.
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