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On the road to Olympic gold

Hello everybody, my name is Merrill Moses the goalkeeper for the United States Olympic Water Polo Team. I am extremely excited that I get to inform my readers about my own and my team’s adventures leading up to and during the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games. Since this is my first blog entry I thought it would be appropriate to explain to my readers my story and how I got to where I am now.

I grew up in the city of Rancho Palos Verdes. I am the youngest of six, with two older brothers and three older sisters, two of which are identical twins. My father always had all of us kids in multiple sports throughout the years of childhood. During my 7th and 8th grade years I played Pop Warner football and thought that was going to be my sport of choice in high school. Going into my freshman year, all three high schools in the district decided to combine into one big school named Peninsula High School. This meant that all sports teams and athletes now were competing to play for one high school team instead of three different teams. During football training camp before my freshman year I decided that football was not the sport for me and looked to see what other sports were out there. I was walking around campus and started hearing whistles coming from the pool deck and peeked my head in to see what was going on. Once I saw this game called water polo being played I knew that I had to try it. I walked up to the coach and asked him if I could walk on to his team and he said no problem. I actually played in the field as an attacker my freshman year of high school. I was a young kid and was very excited about the game and wanted to score like every other young kid. Then, my sophomore year, my coach needed a goalkeeper. Since no one volunteered, he tried out each one of us in the goal. Soon he decided that I was the best one and that I was the new goalkeeper. At first I was a little unhappy about this decision because, like I told you, I wanted to score, but I started to love the position and took ownership as the leader of the defense. I played goalkeeper for the remainder of my high school career and ended up making it to the semi-finals of CIF my senior year. This was the farthest that my high school had ever gone in CIF for water polo. In my senior year speech I thanked my coach for turning me into a goalkeeper, which ultimately gave me the opportunity to walk on to the Pepperdine University water polo team.

I ended up becoming the starting goalkeeper for Pepperdine University as a freshman. I had to beat out a senior goalkeeper and an incoming freshman that was on a full scholarship. I was the starting goalkeeper for Pepperdine for all four years that I played there. During my junior year at Pepperdine, my team and I won the school’s first and only NCAA Championship. I was named Co-MVP of the game and shortly after winning the NCAA Championship I was invited to train with the National Team. My senior year we lost the final game of the MPSF tournament which knocked us out of being in the NCAA Championship game for a second straight year.

I graduated from Pepperdine University in 2000 and decided that my main goal and focus would be to represent our country in the Olympic Games and win a medal for our country. I was still very young and was considered a rookie with only a couple years experience on the National Team when I graduated. I was cut from the 2000 Olympic Games, but that was expected. To make the Olympic Team you must climb through the ranks and put years of practice under your belt. This is even more so the case for an Olympic goalkeeper in water polo. The reason I say that is due to the fact that there are only 13 players that go to the Olympics in the sport of water polo and out of those 13 only 2 are goalkeepers. After I got cut from the 2000 Olympic Team I decided to go play professionally for the first time in Zaragoza, Spain. I played in their professional league for a 9 month season and then came back home and started to train again for the 2004 Olympic Games.

Two months before the 2004 Olympic Games I was the last goalkeeper cut from the team and thought that my dreams of becoming an Olympian and representing my country on the medal stand were over. I stopped playing water polo and went into the mortgage business. I worked in the mortgage business for two years. Then in 2006 I received a phone call from Terry Schroeder. At that time Terry Schroeder was the Assistant Coach for the Olympic Team and he was also my college coach at Pepperdine for all 4 years. Coach Schroeder called me and asked me if I would be interested in coming back to play for the Olympic Team. The very next day, I put away my suit and tie, ended my career in the mortgage industry, and took my speedo back out of the closet and started training. Since I had taken two years off I had to work extra hard to get back into shape, and my coaches knew it would take time. In the 2007 Melbourne World Championships we got 9th place. This was the big tournament a year before the Olympics. We knew as a team we had a lot of work to do. We stuck together and knew that with hard work and dedication we could shock the world. In the 2008 Olympic Games that is exactly what we did, we shocked the world. We ended up winning a Silver Medal when we lost to Hungary 14 to 10 in the finals. I was named top goalkeeper of the tournament, and my team captain Tony Azevedo was also named one of the top right handed attackers of the tournament. Not too bad for a team that was ranked 9th going into the Olympics.

Since the 2008 Olympic Games most of our team has had opportunities to play professionally overseas. The year after the Olympics I played professionally in Croatia. The two years following that I played professional seasons in Italy. This year our head coach Terry Schroeder has asked us to not play in Europe, but instead to stay home and train together. We all have agreed to do this because we believe it will give us the best chance to win a Gold Medal in the London Olympics, allowing us to build on our strategies and chemistry in the water. Now we are close to 200 days away from the London Olympics and are in a familiar position: we are ranked 6th in the world and most people are counting us out of medal contention. We believe as a team that we can shock the world again and this time bring home a Gold Medal. I hope you, my readers, follow me and my team through this journey to winning a Gold Medal at the London Olympics. I will keep you all updated with stories and updates on what our team is doing. I hope you all enjoy the ride with me. Thanks for reading.