SAN JOSE, California, November 11. THIS past weekend, Bellarmine College Prep and Lynbrook High hosted the 23rd annual Memorial Cup Water Polo Tournament in San Jose, Calif. The tournament honored water polo greats Peter Cutino, Steve Heaston, John Felix and other past legends that have pioneered the sport of water polo in their respective communities.
The coaches were recognized for their tremendous and tireless contributions as well as for their overwhelming support of the many athletes, parents and schools with whom they have been associated. Most importantly, the 2007 FINIS Memorial Cup celebrated these water polo greats for their lifelong pursuit to improve and promote water polo as a high school sport.
The Memorial Cup has become a top-of-the-line, prestigious event in California as the tourney not only acts as the last major competition before the state Section Championships, but also because of the annual tributes to those positively impacting the sport.
FINIS Inc., a Northern California-based swimming and water polo company and sponsor of former Stanford All-American and U.S.A. Team Captain, Tony Azevedo – himself a 4-time recipient of the Peter Cutino Award, was this year's event sponsor. The founders of FINIS, president John Mix and former Olympic Gold Medalist Pablo Morales, were both former Bellarmine Prep water polo players who went on to compete at the collegiate level. With FINIS as the sponsor, the 2007 Memorial Cup served as a means to promote the outreach of the game, honor past legends, and build upon the foundation that all former and current waterpolo players have created.
The competition ran from Friday, Oct. 26 to Saturday, Oct. 27. The field was made up of top level teams from Northern California and Southern California. The tournament schedule included the following:
Southern California Teams:
Newport Harbor, Corona Del Mar, Long Beach Poly, Coronado, Mission Viejo, Harvard Westlake, Santa Barbara, Foothill
Northern California Teams:
Sacred Heart Prep, Palo Alto, Clovis West, Miramonte, Menlo, Bellarmine, Jesuit, Campolindo
Due to the unexpected situation surrounding the Southern California fires, Newport Harbor High, Corona Del Mar High and Coronado High were unable to participate.
"As a coach, I'm disappointed for the boys," Coronado Coach Barry O'Dea said. "It would have been a great tournament. At the same time, we have to do what we're told."
In lieu of these unfortunate circumstances, the weekend made for some great competition. The final games of the tournament featured a showdown between Miramonte and Sacred Heart. These two teams had met twice before this weekend, with Sacred Heart prevailing in both prior meetings. However, it was the Miramonte Matadors who took the title over the Alligators. The Matadors outscored Sacred Heart, 9-7, with outstanding scoring from Miramonte's Tommy Brisky (3) and Brian Baier (2), and Sacred Heart standouts Paul Rudolph (3) and Tim Norton (2). Defending champs Menlo High School stole third place by defeating Foothill High School, 8-3, with Alex Avery scoring six goals and Gerrard Clark scoring two goals for Menlo.
Tournament MVP was Miramonte's standout goalie John Nash and the entire Miramonte defense. John Mann, UC Berkley graduate and winner of the Pete Cutino Award was on hand to pass out the tournament trophies and MVP awards, along with John Mix, president of FINIS, lead sponsor of the event. Olympians Craig Klass and Wolf Wigo were also in attendance for the events final game.
Also, providing support for the weekend's participants was Anton Kajlich, a former player and goalie for Pete Cutino. Kajlich supports his passion for the game through his business, Anti-Wave International, as one of the leading manufacturers of water polo goals and lane lines in the world. The MVP's of the tournament and winning teams of each first-round game received a complimentary Anti-Wave water polo ball for their efforts. Anti-Wave International is working with FINIS to bring about some great new products for the sport.
A special tournament highlight was a note sent by Anna Cutino, daughter of the legendary Pete Cutino. Anna sent warm wishes to all players competing in the tournament and many thanks those in attendance. Cutino also acknowledged all the supporters and sponsors of the weekends' events, thanking them for their much appreciated and long-deserved recognition of the water polo community. Her letter, which was printed on the back of the event program, is shown below:
To the Attendees and Honorees of the 2007 FINIS Memorial Cup,
I want to thank The FINIS Company for sponsoring this memorial tournament in honor of my father Pete Cutino, Steve Heaston and John Felix. I'm sure they would be humbled and honored for this tribute.
It's wonderful for our families to witness, for the first time in the history of water polo, the vast number of second generation water polo players, some of whom are here this weekend.
As the generations before, these players are competitors, who may become teammates, and possibly even lifelong friends. Regardless, they will all become part of this extended family we call water polo.
It's an excellent time in water polo communities, with growing age group opportunities for both boys and girls, and increasing masters programs all over the country. There is nothing that could pay better homage to these men's lives and their commitment to the sport of water polo.
I want to thank all the coaches for their efforts, those that go far beyond the pool deck. I also want to say thank you to the parents for being there to support their children, and to the referees, who at times receive the least amount of recognition but who always deserve the greatest respect.
Good luck to all the competitors this weekend, and thank you again to the FINIS Company for their efforts in advancing this next generation of water polo players.
Daughter of Pete Cutino
"The Question Arises… Do Sports Build Character? I Contend They Reveal It."
- Peter Cutino