Zack Rhodes is a senior
goalkeeper for Pepperdine's water polo team. He recently received GCC Player of
the Week honors. He explains what it means to receive that and how his senior
season is making him feel:
Q: After your huge 17-save game against Long Beach State you were named GCC Player of the Week. What does getting this honor mean to you?
A: I was happy to receive it, it means a lot to me. But I was happier with how well our team was able to work so well together and stay on top of our roles. When everyone else does their part it makes getting saves and being able to do my job much easier. Without my team I wouldn't have gotten this. It is more of a representation of the entire team's work and proves what we can do at our full potential.
Q: Leading into the GCC Tournament, you are the reigning MVP and you guys are the reigning champs. Does that put pressure or anything on you guys to perform?
A: I do feel like there are certain expectations and we are held to a little higher standard having won it last year. It does put more pressure on us, but better than that, it drives us even more to repeat. For me I go into every tournament with the mindset of playing the best that I can and do everything I can. I am not focused on outside awards like MVP, I just want to be my best and help my team win.
Q: Who would you say your biggest competition is in the GCC Tournament?
A: The University of Pacific, who did get the better of us recently. But I feel like we were making little mistakes and if we fix that we will be okay.
Q: What happens if you win the GCC Tournament?
A: If we win the tournament we are then in line to compete for the NCAA title. But our focus right now is the GCC Tournament and we have to make it through that. Then we can start planning for NCAA Tournament.
Q: Being a senior what can you take away from your four years of water polo at Pepperdine?
A: That's a tough question. I feel like I have learned so much from water polo and it has been a tremendous growing experience. I have learned so many things in the pool that can be translated into real life. The biggest lesson is probably learning how important communication is. It's a necessity to stay on top of everything and communicate since the second you lose that communication you never really know what is going to happen. Another big thing I learned is effort. That you only get out as much as you put in. So if we all put in 100 percent, even if we lose, we can feel good about ourselves knowing we gave it our all.
Q: How does water polo and school work together?
A: Water polo is a huge help with time management, especially with all my homework. It has taught me how to work better in groups and that I always need to know my role. Whether it is in the pool or in a real life situation, once I learned what my role is it has made everything a lot easier.
Q: What does breaking Pepperdine's all-time goalie saves record mean to you?
A: I am really excited that I got that. It has always been one of my goals. Being a goalie you don't get much of a shot at scoring so it was nice to have something to strive for. I really wanted to leave my mark here and I believe I have by breaking that record and now setting it as high as I can make it. That I hope will in turn motivate new freshmen and new goalies to try and break my record and give them something to push for the same way it did for me.
Q: Who has had a big impact on you during your college career and throughout your life?
A: There have been so many people that have come into my life and helped me a lot. Merrill (Moses), my coach, has been very helpful during my career here. He has helped me stay focused and worked with me even when times are rough. It really helps because he can relate to me and he has very high expectations for me, which makes me want to keep pushing everyday. But the person who has influenced me the most is definitely my mom. She has been there for my entire career and been able to push me in the right direction. I can always talk to her and she always helps me get back on track. She is my role model. I just want to try and be a good person and do everything to the best of my ability like I know my mom would. She works hard for my brother and I and she has taught me that there is a lot you can get the harder you work.
Q: What is your favorite memory from college?
A: Winning GCCs was really a great time. Having every piece come together and winning a conference championship made us all feel so accomplished. Then going home after a long hard season knowing that our hard work had paid off. Being a part of that was a phenomenal experience, I couldn't have asked for more. Hopefully we have more experiences like that this year.
Q: How are you feeling about nearing the end of your collegiate career?
A: I have a bunch of mixed feelings. I am sad that it is ending but I have had probably one of the best experiences I could have ever asked for here at Pepperdine. I loved the team and the atmosphere. As bad as it sounds I am going to miss having to wake up at 6 a.m. to get to practice. The people I have met on the team have become my closest friends and basically my brothers. The hardest part will be not seeing everyone every day and having that three-hour stress reliever in the pool all working toward the same goal. I am happy that it did happen. I have learned so much and been so fortunate to be an athlete here at Pepperdine. The discipline I have learned and the ups and downs I have been through, it has all been a great way to learn and an even better foundation for life. Water polo and all its lessons have been a very important part of my journey through Pepperdine.