The No. 11 men’s water polo team will head into tournament play at the Santa Clara Bronco Invitational this weekend on a roll. The Bears (12-6, 4-1 NWPC) are sporting an impressive six-game win streak dating back to Oct. 1. This string of dominant play is largely attributable to the team’s high-intensity offense, which has been propelled by numerous multiple-goal performances from upperclassmen.
Veteran attack Tommy Bush ’18 is a case in point, netting a staggering five goals against the University of Toronto Sunday at the Harvard Invitational. Bush scored in each of the game’s final three periods to help power the Bears to a resounding 15-7 rout of the Varsity Blues.
For his unmatched offensive production and pivotal performance in the team’s weekend victories, Bush has been named The Herald’s Athlete of the Week.
Herald: Did you have any particular thoughts leading up to the game?
Bush: It was pretty standard. We haven’t played Toronto before, so we talked a little about personnel and just tried to stay loose. Toronto is not typically a very strong competitor, so we got a long run in.
At what point in the game did you really start to find your rhythm?
I think it was more about being at the right place at the right time and having my teammates setting me up. So I didn’t actually feel like I was in some crazy rhythm; I just got a lot of good open looks.
Being a junior in the system, how would you say your role on the team has changed over the years?
I have definitely developed more into my role on the team. Freshman and sophomore year, you are kind of just figuring things out. You are primarily in there to gain experience and provide some good defense. Now that I am an upperclassman, I am much more involved in the offense. Playing with these guys for two or three years, you just get a much better feel for how everybody else plays, which has helped our chemistry a lot. We have such a strong core of upperclassman, with a six-person senior class and another five people in the junior class.
When did you start playing water polo, and what drew you into the sport?
I started playing when I was 11. It was really because my dad played in high school, so he was always a fan of the sport. And a lot of my good friends that I had met while on the swim team played water polo, too, so I decided I would give it a shot.
What is your favorite thing about water polo?
Now that I have been playing it for so long, the best thing is all of the friends that I have made. Aside from the relationships, it has helped me learn a lot about managing my time between school and athletics and about the value of hard work. In terms of the actual gameplay, I love the fast style of play. And it’s a contact sport, which is a lot of fun.
Moving forward, what are your goals for the rest of the season?
Our main goal obviously is to put ourselves in the best position possible for the conference tournament at the end of the season. We have two more weekends of league games, so those will be really important for locking down that number-one seed. More generally, we are just trying to improve every time we play. We have a big tournament this weekend in California where we are going to play some really good teams, so hopefully we can gain some good experience there and continue to build momentum.
Most other sports do not have these big invitational tournaments like water polo. How do they fit into your season?
It’s definitely pretty unique. We just go in every weekend with the mentality that we are trying to get better every game. That is really the theme of the season. The games don’t technically matter in terms of conference play, but they do matter in terms of improvement, so we try to approach them with equal intensity.
Do you have any individual goals as an athlete moving forward?
It’s not about anything like, “I want to score a certain amount of goals.” It’s more that I just want to be the best teammate that I can and continue contributing to the team.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.