Nov. 4, 2011
By James Kim, Athletics Communications Student Assistant
A senior from Walnut Creek, Calif., Kevin Peat is a goalkeeper for the UC Davis men’s water polo team. After redshirting the 2007 season, Peat has been the first-string goalkeeper for four years with the Aggies. This year, as a 2011 team captain, he has started all 29 games and has tallied up 274 saves. UCDavisAggies.com’s James Kim had a chance to chat with Peat about playing for a Division I program.
What is your favorite part about UC Davis and what drew you here over other schools?
My favorite part of UC Davis in terms of the team has been the sense of community. When I went through the process of going on recruiting trips what struck me about Davis is that the players truly enjoyed hanging out and playing together, and it was really a team concept. At De La Salle High School, community was really stressed to me and that has remained important.
What is your most memorable moment playing for UC Davis?
My freshman year game against Stanford. Even though we lost, it was the moment I thought I could play at this level. Stanford is constantly one of the top teams in the nation and being able to pull off 14 saves against them, including two 5-meter blocks and several counter attack blocks let me believe, “You can do this, you are alright, you are where you belong.”
Being a team captain, how does it feel to be in a senior leadership role and have the younger players look up to you?
It is a little different because I have been team captain for 3 years. Knowing it is my last year I feel a little more of a burden to make sure the team does well and to pass on what I know and any experience I have gained to the younger guys, especially the goalies who are going to be called into action quicker then they realize. It is definitely a change in what my focus has been the last couple years. There had been older guys to help guide me and the younger players, but now the responsibility is squarely on my shoulders.
What goes through your mind when you set up to defend a 5-meter penalty shot?
First breathe and calm down. 5-meters are a high stress situation. All the focus is on the shooter and the goalie. In my head all the pressure is on him because that is a shot he should not miss. I think of the last several times I have faced that particular player. Every shooter has his process he goes through to calm himself down, pick out a spot, and hit it. I will look back at his tendencies, and in a high stress situation he is going to put it into his favorite spot where in practice he can hit nine out of 10 times. That is most likely where I am going to defend. It has worked pretty well in the past.
Which UC Davis player would you least like to see on the other side of the ball?
There are several players I would least like shooting at me for several reasons. Aaron Salit can throw the ball pretty hard, but being a hole set he is not particularly practiced at hitting the corners so he has a tendency to hit me in the face, so it’s not always pleasant facing him in short-distance scenarios. Walter Eggert has fantastic shooting form and he is difficult to block because he can hit high corners. He can throw it hard and puts it in a difficult position to defend. Bernie Rogers has really developed into a clutch shooter for us this year. He has a very quick release, and while he is not necessarily a big threat at 5-meters, he is best off the cross pass in an offense that is flowing and moving through its progressions.
Do you have any superstitions or rituals you perform before or during the game?
I always put my cap on underwater because I like the way it feels. Also, I always do one under water lap before a game. There is noise going on during warmups so I like to duck under water and take 20 to 30 seconds just with myself.
If you could give a young water polo player, especially a goalie, a piece of advice, what would it be?
If you want to get here learn your fundamentals. To play at a Div. I school, take pride in the most boring drills that are taught in practice. Teams around the nation lose games due to fundamental mistakes. Water polo is not a game where unusual situations are going to occur. The game has been played for centuries, what happens has happened before, and the coaches drill you so you know how to deal with that. If you work on your fundamentals at a young age where they can be done perfectly subconsciously, you are going to be in a good position.
UC Davis men’s water polo returns to action November 12th at home against the Cal Golden Bears.