As the final buzzer of the 2022 NCAA men’s water polo National Championship game sounded at Spieker Aquatics Complex in Berkeley, Calif., Adrian Weinberg, Class of 2019, had tears running down his face as the rest of his team, along with coaches and fans alike, jumped into the pool.
“I was on the brink of crying when we mounted the comeback and went up 13-12,” said Weinberg, a junior at the University of California at Berkeley. “It was definitely the best comeback that I have ever been a part of, and to do it in front of our home fans at Berkeley was such a surreal moment that I will never forget.”
The Golden Bears remained golden, capturing their NCAA leading 16th National Championship in men’s water polo, and second straight with Weinberg manning goal. After trailing by four goals going into the fourth quarter, the Bears tied the game at 12, then after a crucial Weinberg save, got the game-winning goal with 40 seconds left in the game.
He now looks forward to the offseason. For most college athletes, the offseason means less practice and more time for focusing on school and friends. For athletes who are trying to make the United States National Team for the 2024 Olympics in Paris, it’s a bit of a different story.
“My offseason is going to be incredibly difficult,” Weinberg said. “I am thinking about Paris in 2024, and I know how hard I need to train to make that team. We have tournaments coming up that are crucial to making that team. We have one over winter break in Dallas with the national team, so I really need to be on my game. There is no real rest for me. I am okay with that, because I am willing to sacrifice anything to be a part of that team that goes to Paris. You have to stay with the team as much as you can. Pretty much whenever they call me, I have to drop what I’m doing and go. I can’t really say that I have to miss training because of school. It’s something that I am talking with my head coach, and it is definitely something that we need to still really work out, but I know what kind of commitment it takes. Whatever team USA needs me to do, I am going to do it.”
That kind of commitment has carried over from his time at Oaks Christian.Coming from a humble background, Weinberg has always had to go the extra mile to prove himself. That drive and determination is what drove head water polo coach Jack Kocur to him.
“If it weren’t for Coach Kocur, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” said Weinberg. “I started playing water polo in the inner city of Los Angeles and didn’t have much going for me in terms of water polo. I was fortunate to make the national team, and Kocur was the coach for that age group at the time. Oaks needed a goalie, and he took me under his wing. He and all the coaches taught me everything that they knew, and because of that, I truly dedicate all of my water polo IQ to Coach Kocur for sure. I am able to read the game well because of him.”
Weinberg has very fond memories of his time at Oaks. He played both water polo and baseball throughout his time as a Lion, and credits a lot of his growth not only as an athlete, but as a person, to Oaks Christian.
“I think that because of Oaks, I try my best to be dedicated to the faith, I go to bible study every week, and am a part of a group on campus called Athletes in Action, which is a Christian ministry specifically designed for athletes,” Weinberg said. “Oaks really instilled that in me. I had already had questions about it when I was coming into Oaks and the environment really changed me for the better. I try my best to treat people with respect because of the respect that I was shown. I remember hearing a slogan of “Live and Love Like Jesus,” and I try my best to do that in my daily life. I know that I am not perfect, and that I fail a lot, but I truly try my best.”
Next up for Weinberg is his fourth and final season at Cal, but he does admit that the Olympics in 2024 can creep into his brain.
“My mind does sometimes wander to that thought,” Weinberg said. “One of my dreams is making the Olympics, so when I am laying on my bed alone in my room, I think a lot about being there and doing something that helps the team win. Whenever I get overwhelmed, I think about how blessed I am to even have this opportunity.”
Weinberg and fellow Oaks Christian alumni Jake Ehrhardt, Class of 2018 and Joshua Waldoch, Class of 2020, all compete at the Division I level in men’s water polo, with Ehrhardt and Waldoch both at USC. Another OCS alum doing big things in the water polo world is Olympic gold medalist Amanda Longan Class of 2015. In addition to being on the women's water polo gold medal team in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, she is a former USC women’s water polo player and current US National Team goalie. The women’s national team just finished competing at the FINA World League, taking home the bronze medal.