The night of the championship was frigid and dark, save the silver shine off a full moon that hung lazily in the east. A single star pierced through a coal-black southern sky, above the silhouette of a forest of evergreens, while smoke clouds rose from the rain-peppered pool.
And yet, two teams braved the elements — screaming, scrapping and splashing toward the ultimate goal.
The Kekoomba, which has gone three straight quarters without losing a match, faced off with the team We Are Really Good and Stuff in the inner-tube water polo championship on Nov. 21. The two had met during the regular season and We Are Really Good and Stuff put up an incredible fight, losing by only one goal.
The members of We Are Really Good and Stuff are smiley and easy-going. Kekoomba team members are big, strong, cocky and mean. This could have been a David and Goliath story.
But the reason that story is still told is that most of the time, the rock does not connect directly between the eyes. Most of the time the giant kills the little boy.
The Kekoomba dominated the match 29-11, continuing their 21-game winning streak (not including forfeits) and capturing the team’s third straight championship.
“We dominate, definitely, anyone who steps in that pool,” said third-year Laura Rudolph, whose teammates call her the Kekoomba’s MVP. “I think that’s the perfect word to describe it: dominance.”
Rudolph rarely missed a shot, leading her team with eight goals, which accounted for 16 of the Kekoomba’s 29 points (goals by women count for two), half of which were assisted by third-year Taylor Moxon. The Kekoomba paddled down the pool faster and fought for the ball more aggressively, making points nearly impossible to come by for We Are Really Good and Stuff.
The Kekoomba played a perfect match.
A team does not win 21 consecutive games by chance. The inner-tube water polo championship three-peat displays a dominance rarely seen in sport.
“I would rank us somewhere around the Bulls dynasty,” third-year Nick Armell said.
True, Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls did twice three-peat, but they were far from undefeated. A winning streak like the Kekoomba’s rarely happens.
The team has found success by keeping its talented squad together every quarter. Much of the roster played water polo in high school. And with a consistent roster, the team gets better every intramural season.
The Kekoomba is a dynasty: the Patriots, the Lakers and the Yankees of inner-tube water polo. They are Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, Babe Ruth and Barry Bonds. They are Da Vinci, using a yellow ball to paint the Mona Lisa every time they enter the pool.
We are taught that perfection is an unattainable goal — just out of humanity’s reach. And yet, the Kekoomba has been perfect for three straight years.
William Faulkner once said: “All of us failed to match our dreams of perfection.”
Clearly, he had never seen the Kekoomba play inner-tube water polo.
Fourth-year Daniel Rozen promised that Kekoomba would defend its title this winter.
As he pulled his UCSC intramural championship T-shirt over his head, he grinned, nodded and said: “We are thoroughly apologetic to those who dare face us. We got to win it again. We need a shirt for every day of the week.”