Brown beat Massachusetts Institute of Technology 17-12 at home Saturday with a hat trick from attacker Leo Berkman ’23 that helped the Bears short circuit the Engineers. All the water in the pool could not extinguish Berkman’s hot streak as he came away from the match with three goals, an assist and five ejections drawn.
Before arriving at Brown, Berkman was captain of his high school’s varsity water polo team in Miramonte, California. He also played for Lamorinda Water Polo Club, where he helped lead his team to a top four finish in the Junior Olympics. Berkman won two Olympic Development Program national titles, including a national championship in 2018, and he was awarded USA Water Polo Academic All-America honors three times. For his efforts against MIT, Berkman has been named The Herald’s Athlete of the Week.
Herald: Why did you choose Brown?
Berkman: I chose Brown because I thought the school had a very unique and authentic attitude toward learning and living. I was intrigued by the possibilities and opportunities as well as the apparent passion of the students.
What’s the most difficult part about being a water polo athlete?
Probably the physical taxation. A lot of times you have multiple games or multiple practices in a day and it’s … very challenging. There’s really no time to rest because when you’re out there playing, the game is pretty fluid. Once you get going, you really have to stay on it and be working hard the whole time.
How did you first get started playing water polo?
Where I’m from, a lot of people swim and play water polo. I was a pretty good swimmer from a young age so I tried out water polo and once I started, I couldn’t stop.
What away game are you most looking forward to this season?
I’m looking forward to playing Harvard, because we just played them at home, and we didn’t have our best game. I know we’re all very excited for a chance to play them again and show them what we’re really capable of.
What’s a fun fact about you?
One time I made a really good ceramic bowl. It was kind of a miracle. I was spinning it and put my thumb in the clay, and it formed a beautiful bowl. I made it at school, but I brought it home and gave it to my mom for her birthday. She really likes it.
What’s your personal highlight of the season so far?
Hitting a “double bar” in against Harvard. It looked really cool, but it was also satisfying.
What’s an inside tip about water polo that spectators should know?
The refs are pretty sensitive. … I’ve gotten in trouble for saying the most basic things to the ref while I’m playing. So, if you (as a fan) feel comfortable, you should let the refs know your opinion, because the players can’t.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.