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Shockley '14 leads water polo team to victory

For Brunonians hailing from California, the transition to college means trading Rainbow sandals for rain boots and year-round sunshine for snow and four seasons. For the 11 of 17 players on the men's water polo team from the Golden State, it was a homecoming of sorts when the squad traveled cross-country to compete in the Rodeo, a water polo tournament held in Santa Clara, Calif.

The Bears disproved the notion that the West Coast is the best coast when it comes to college aquatics by clinching a 5-0 record in the tournament with wins over California Baptist University, Air Force Academy, Fresno Pacific University, University of California at Davis, and Santa Clara University. Walker Shockley '14 and his teammates return to action at home for the squad's Senior Night Friday against the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Leading the squad was goalkeeper Shockley, a native of Diamond Bar, Calif., who racked up 52 saves, four assists and seven steals in tournament. For the lock-down performance in his home state, Shockley has been named The Herald's Athlete of the Week.

Herald: How did you first get involved in water polo?
Shockley: I had a whole bunch of family friends who played water polo, and I was already on the swim team, so I decided I would try water polo when I was in fourth grade, and it just kind of stuck.

What was the transition like from swimming to water polo?
For me, it was pretty easy. I had some experience with soccer when I was younger, so I had the field vision to begin with.

What's the biggest misconception about water polo?
I don't think people understand how aggressive it is. It can be frustrating at times when people dismiss it compared to other contact sports like football.

Are you excluded from a lot of that physicality as the goalie?
I do stay removed from some of the more physical aspects of the game because, as a goalie, my game is a lot more mental. But there are still tussles, and a lot is going on right in front of me.

What is your role as the goalie beyond just blocking shots?
From my perspective, I feel like I help orchestrate the defensive side of the game. I take on a leadership role in the pool because I have a bigger view of everything going on. Whereas my role may not be as physical, I feel like it is more meaningful.

When you do allow a goal, where does the blame fall? Is it something you have to accept or is it a team breakdown?
Sometimes I do accept it, but I have to internalize it and move past it. It's different because, as the goalie, you feel like your mistakes show up on the scoreboard while your teammates' don't necessarily.

What was it like getting the opportunity to travel back to California for the weekend?
It was actually really great. All of us saw our family, and we got some Vitamin D in. It's also just being back in that California culture we all grew up around ... so I think that helped with all of our morale in the long run.

How is the West Coast style of play different than the East Coast?
West Coast water polo, across the board, is more traditional. It's more comparable to international water polo and higher-level water polo than some East Coast schools. One of the things that I really like about Brown's program is that we do adopt a much more traditional aspect of the game.

What do you have to say to the seniors on the team as they go into their Senior Day?
I would say that playing with them for three full seasons has been the highlight of my career, and I am going to terribly miss all of them. They set a precedent, and they are leaving behind a huge legacy for future generations of Brown water polo to aspire to achieve.



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