Alumni, current Sharks compete during Malibu High water polo alumni game

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Over 30 current and former Malibu High water polo players donned either white or black caps and hit the pool for this year’s Sharks water polo celebration. Photos by McKenzie Jackson.

Over 30 current and former MHS players hit the pool for this year’s Sharks water polo celebration

The youngsters were the winners for the first time in recent memory at the Malibu High Sharks water polo program’s alumni day game on Nov. 25.

A squad composed of members of the current Malibu boys water polo team and squads within the last five years defeated a group of alumni from teams in the 1990s, 2000s, and 2010s 13-12 in a contest in front of friends and family at the Malibu High pool. 

Sharks boys and girls water polo teams head coach Hayden Goldberg, who coached the younger team, said getting the win was impressive.

“Those were some big boys playing,” he said. “It was really fun to watch. It was a great experience to have all the guys come out. You could feel the family environment. It seems like a staple of what they all want to do for Thanksgiving.”

The alumni match has been held nearly every Saturday after Thanksgiving since 1998. Each time, the game brings together a litany of former players. Over 30 current and former Sharks donned either white or black water polo caps and hit the pool for this year’s Sharks water polo celebration. 

Brothers and former Malibu players Jack Hughes — class of 2019 — and Dillion Hughes — class of 2021 — jokingly said defeating the older alumni was a great feeling. 

“It was a lot of fun to get out here and see everybody,” Jack said. “It’s always nice to get out here with the older guys.” 

“It reminds you the high school community and it’s a super great time to be with everyone and see your coaches,” added Dillion. 

Spencer Sinding, who graduated in 2016, laughed immediately after the match when he said he felt out of shape. He and 2011 graduates Kris Kaliakian and Ryan Brown said the last time they played water polo was at the 2022 alumni game.

“The tradition and camaraderie of it all of playing Malibu water polo is a great feeling,” Kaliakian said. “It’s great memories. It’s a great way to reconnect.” 

A group of Sharks girls water polo team alumnae defeated members of the current girls team and a few boys players 10-7 in a contest before the boys match.

Class of 2022 member Lexi Spivack and her sister Sophie Spivack, a 2018 graduate, have participated in the alumni festivities several times. Lexi enjoyed playing with her sister and former teammates. 

“It’s just like old times,” she said. “I had a couple of goals but I was very out of shape. It took a second to remember how to play.” 

Moments after the boys alumni team jumped in the pool to start the contest, one yelled jokingly, “Don’t pull your groin kicking too hard.” 

The younger boys team scored the match’s first point two minutes into the seven-minute first quarter. Then, the older alumni tied the score. The teams traded goals throughout the first two quarters, but the older alumni had a 7-5 lead at halftime. The senior group increased their lead by three points at times in the third quarter, however the younger bunch rallied and knotted the score at 10-10 early in the final quarter. The younger group lead 13-10 in the game’s final minutes before the older alumni scored two more points. 

The alumni girls team scored first in their matchup. The current girls team’s scoring attempt failed and then the alumni scored again. Goldberg, the high school team’s coach, urged his squad on — “Keep going to the goal” — before they scored their first point. The high school team scored again, but the alumni scored three more times and led 5-2 at halftime. The alumni led 6-3 in the third quarter when Lexi scored for them to increase their lead by four points. The alumni led 8-3 when the high school team scored two straight points. In the fourth quarter, the alumni led 9-5, then 9-6, before finally snagging the three-point win. 

Longtime Malibu water polo coach Mike Mulligan, the alumni game’s founder, refereed both matches. He enjoyed catching up with former players during the turkey day weekend. 

“It is awesome to see they still love the game and want to come back and relive some highlights,” Mulligan said. “So many of the grads are grown up and have families. Hopefully, we’ll see a few of their kids out here.”