One on one with Olympic water polo hopeful Merrill Moses

Pepperdine University alumnus Merrill Moses is hoping to be on the national water polo team when it competes this summer in the Beijing Olympic Games.

Merrill Moses, 30, is considered by many in the water polo community to be one of the most explosive goal keepers in the world. Born in Harbor City, Calif. and raised in Rancho Palos Verdes, he played on Pepperdine University’s 1997 national championship team. Moses is trying to make his first Olympic team.

Q: Tell me about the pressures of trying to make the team?

A: Well there is a lot of pressure to make the team. We have 26 people in training with only 13 getting the honor of representing USA and traveling to the Olympics. With that, every minute of every practice matters. The coach is evaluating everything we do, which I think is great. It makes practices extremely intense.

Q: How do you prepare mentally?

A: I like to put a towel over my head when I am stretching and mentally visualize the shooters and their tendencies.

Q: What would it mean to you to make the team?

A: It would be a great honor to represent my country. It would mean that I accomplished one of my lifelong goals.

Q: What is the most satisfying experience you have had playing nationally or internationally?

A: Winning the gold medal at the Pan American Games, which qualified the team for the Olympic Games this year. Lots of hard work that paid off to give us a chance to represent our country on the biggest stage in sports.

Q: What is your favorite part of the game?

A: Six on five defense. I love stopping a power play because it devastates the other team and gives our team momentum going into our defense.

Q: What is the most challenging part of the game?

A: Six on five defense. With a man down we have to cover a lot of water and rely on each other tremendously to cover our part of the goal.

Q: What is your greatest achievement?

A: My greatest achievement is yet to come in sports. I believe that will come in the Olympics. However, I think it is a great achievement to be part of the USA Olympic water polo Team.

Q: What is the hardest fundamental for you to master?

A: Believe it or not, it is passing. I have never had a problem blocking the ball. I have had to work endless hours making long passes because they must be very precise or it can disrupt the entire attack.

Q: How did you get started playing water polo?

A: I actually walked onto a pool deck my freshman year in high school after football practice and decided that I would rather be in the water than on the football field since it was too hot. Funny thing, I actually was not even a goalie until my sophomore year because as with every young kid I wanted to score goals. But my coach put me in goal at which time I realized that is where I belonged.

Q: What do you like about representing USA?

A: I like the camaraderie and teamwork that it takes to play the game. I also love wearing red, white and blue and hearing the national anthem before the games. It makes one realize that you are one of the few chosen to represent your country because you are the best at what you do. In that role, all eyes are on you and your teammates while your country watches you, supports you and relies on you to do your best.

Q: Anything you don’t like about representing USA?

A: There is nothing I don’t like about representing the USA.

Q: What other hobbies do you have?

A: Snowboarding, wakeboarding, jet skiing, scuba diving, cooking and going to sporting events.