Q&A with Water Polo’s Attacker Paul Pedrotty '13
By Gary Lambrecht
The “Coronado Pipeline” has fed Navy’s successful water polo program for many years. Navy’s Paul Pedrotty ’13, one of five midshipmen on this year’s team who hail from Coronado High School near San Diego, is the present leader of the pack. MIDN Pedrotty led Navy in scoring his second-class year—the team included his older brother, ENS Daniel Pedrotty ’10, USN—and is carrying the Mids’ offense in 2012. Paul’s team-high 65 goals and 88 points were a huge reason the 14th-ranked Mids were off to a 17-2 start. Pedrotty, who is trying to get to his first NCAA tournament semifinals event, recently chatted with writer Gary Lambrecht.
Q: Being from Southern California, were you pulled by the sports culture into the game of water polo at an early age?
A: Actually, I grew up playing basketball and baseball. Like the typical kid, I wanted to be a professional baseball player. My brother played water polo before me, and I didn’t even start playing it until my freshman year of high school. The one thing that transferred over quickly was my [water polo] shot, since I had been throwing a baseball as a pitcher my whole life.
Q: So you were just a spectator before competing in the water?
A: I watched a lot of water polo games growing up. It was exciting as a grade school kid to watch the high school kids play. High school games are played outside under the lights. It’s San Diego’s version of “Friday Night Lights.”
Q: Coronado High School routinely produces big-time water polo players. Where did you fit into that mix as a teenager?
A: I was a late bloomer, a tiny little high school kid with a good shot. We were number one in the state in my junior year. The starting six were all seniors and they all went Division I. We were stacked. I wasn’t big, strong or fast enough to get any offers from the bigger California schools. I could have gone to a Division III school, but I wanted the challenge [of competing at the Division I level]. I thought I could reach my potential by coming here. I didn’t really grow into my body until after I got here.
Q: What is a big misconception about the game of water polo?
A: There are a variety of them. People still ask if you are standing in the pool when you play. They think you are just running around in the pool. Water polo is definitely the toughest sport I’ve ever played, mentally and physically. You swim to the offensive end of the pool, and some defender is trying to drown you, then you have to swim back on defense. You need to go as hard as you can until you can’t feel your arms anymore and have to get pulled out of the pool.
Q: Besides the gorgeous Southern California coastal weather, what part of your hometown do you wish you could transport to Annapolis?
A: I miss the outdoor pools. That’s one of my favorite parts about going out there on a road trip [with Navy]. You’re outdoors in fresh air, and the California sun never hurts. It’s the way water polo is meant to be played. It’s definitely different from the muggy, chlorine-filled buildings we play in here.
Q: Since your Dad played soccer at Notre Dame and your brother is a Navy graduate, does that make for some interesting conversation when the Mids play the Fighting Irish in football every year?
A: My father is the biggest Notre Dame fan I’ve ever met. I grew up a huge Notre Dame football fan because of him. Obviously, coming here has changed my ties a little bit. It was really fun watching Navy beat them a couple of times after I was here. Yeah, my brother and I rubbed that in his face.
Q: How have your responsibilities changed as a First Year?
A: I’ve had to be more vocal with the young guys this year, and the plebes have been great in and out of the pool. We haven’t had any trouble with them. One of things [Coach Mike Schofield] told me last summer was he needed me to be bigger, stronger and faster this season. He needed me to do more than just shoot. I took that to heart. I’ve always been decent in the weight room, but I wouldn’t say I’ve been the fittest guy on the team. I focused all summer on doing whatever it took to make us better.
Q: You are 0-for-3 in getting to the NCAA tournament. Does that annoy you just a little bit?
A: Absolutely, it does a lot. It’s a huge mark I haven’t achieved yet. One of the reasons I decided to come here was to compete for a national championship. With three straight losses in the [CWPA] Eastern Championship, we’ve been so close. We’ve got to do it right this year.