Feature by Student Assistant Rico Chow (RC)
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Santa Clara men's water polo junior 2M Stephen Hobbs (SH) is one of the important Bronco players who assisted the team in earning its highest ranking ever, No.10 in the nation, and finish in third place at WWPA Championships. He not only has successful career as an athlete, but also maintains a high GPA with a double major and an active social life.
Below, Hobbs reveals secrets to his well-roundedness and his team's successes for the last season.
RC: According to the people around you, you seem to enjoy sports, reading and playing trombone. With your variety of talents, why did you decide to play water polo?
SH: Playing water polo was actually not my choice. When I was 11 years old my mom singed me up to play in the summer because she heard that sports like swimming and water polo were good for asthmatics. I had never been on a swim team before so I was really nervous and anxious at the first day of practice. When I first came to the pool though I remember there were a bunch of my friends from school and I was really excited to play. From then on I fell in love with the sport and I played with many of those same guys for the next six years.
RC: You are representing for SCU as a water polo player, double majoring in communication and political science and working for the Media Relation Office in the Athletic Department. What is your secret in balancing athletic, academic and social life?
SH: Honestly the secret is I have had a lot of time to practice. My parents instilled the ideas of discipline and time management early in my childhood. Currently both of my parents are college professors at Los Medanos Community College in Pittsburg, Calif., so school is a high priority for them. However, balancing all of those elements was not always smooth. I remember during my sophomore year of high school my grades were not satisfactory and I was not managing my time well enough with athletics and academics. My parents helped me get back on the right track and ever since then I have enjoyed the challenge of balancing athletics, academics, and a social life.
RC: If you were to take your girlfriend to a date, what is your ideal date would be like?
SH: I have two scenarios for an ideal date.
One scenario would be an all day adventure. Based on where we are we would go take a hike. In the East Bay we would go to Mt. Diablo, which is close to my house, and take a long hike throughout the day. There are some very nice views on the top of the mountain and we could sit down, talk and look at the beautiful surrounding areas. We could make lunch, eat it there and spend the whole day there if we want. It would not have to be anything special just simple and relaxing.
We would have dinner and watch a movie. I would make dinner, or we could make it together. We can make something like lasagna, because it is somewhat easy to put together, and it won't take too long. Then we would watch a movie, it would have to be a comedy or something not too serious, because I can't take serious movies. But we would have dinner, watch the movie, and just enjoy our time together and talk. Simple and relaxing - just like the first one.
RC: Last season, the Santa Clara men's water polo team finished third place in the Western Water Polo Association Championships and made it up to the No.10 in the nation at one point. What was different last year compared to the last two years that you were with the Broncos that contributed to these great achievements?
SH: One huge difference was the new pool, which opened last season. The Sullivan Aquatic Center was a gracious gift, which has helped us reach new heights for our program.
One of the main factors in our success was the level of talent that we had on our team. This was the most talented team that I have been a part of here at Santa Clara. We had two-time All-American Jack Wall along with seniors Liam Farrell and Mike Sorgenfrei, They provided strong leadership as captains and also came up big at key moments for us throughout the season. Also, Nick Poggetti, Mitch Klipa and James Case, just to name a few, all stepped up this year and had outstanding seasons for us. Although I only mentioned a few of the guys, everyone on our team was a factor in our success this season.
Another aspect of our team that was different was the level of dedication and intensity of the guys. Right after the 2008 season ended we set a goal to win our conference in 2009. Coach Wilbur worked us extremely hard in the off-season to achieve our goals and he helped us stay intense and strong for the season. We had many ups and downs during the year but we addressed the issues in-house and we kept working hard. Although we did not end our season how we wanted to we still achieved something of significance. We finished third in our conference which is the highest finish for a Santa Clara water polo team under Coach Wilbur and may be the highest finish in the history of our program.
And last but not least I want to thank the people who helped us out this season. Adam Saucedo was gracious enough to be the sports psychologist for our team this season and that really helped us with our goals and staying positive throughout the season. Also, Coaches Kris, Luke and Phil all devoted countless hours to our program even though many times it was just volunteer work. Last but not least, Jennifer Maheu, our athletic trainer, was outstanding in taking care of us during the season and making sure we were healthy and ready to go for the next game and the next practice. All of these people don't get the credit and recognition they deserve.
RC: What is your goal and how are you going to be prepared for the next season?
SH: My goal for the off-season individually is to get better. I was able to take some time off and let my body get refreshed and rested but now it is time to get back to work. Hopefully I can try to improve on something everyday I get in the pool or work out in the weight room. Most importantly for me is to have fun. It can be stressful during the season with school and water polo, and everything else, but I need to remember why I play water polo: because I love the game. I want to cherish these moments with my teammates.
As a team the goal is to win our conference. This is a goal that we have been focused on for a while and will continue to be a goal for our program. Because there is an automatic bid to the NCAAs for the conference winner, we want to make history for the Santa Clara Water Polo program. We will work hard in the off-season to make sure this goal turns into a reality next November during the conference tournament. Hopefully, all of our hard work will pay off and we will be conference champions next fall.