For the last few years, the beginning of May has marked our annual trip with Dragon’s water polo team down south for the San Diego Cup. Dragon was part of a wonderful team — Northwood Water Polo. It was more than a team, it felt like a family. Talented, caring coaches, great teammates, fun families. We spent many hours cheering on our boys from the stands with Stuart passing out “sugar”: high fives and kudos every time one of our boys made a shot or a block or scored a goal. Water polo is also where Dragon and Justin cemented their friendship, which started in the middle school band room.
Our first year, our family went to the San Diego Cup together. The next year, Daniel took Dragon and Justin to San Diego for the weekend, as I was in Northern California with Hannah for a b-school reunion. Then last year, Dragon and I went solo, as Daniel and Hannah had a volleyball tournament. Daniel and I were becoming experts at this “divide-and-conquer” parenting dance.
San Diego is a special time, because along with non-stop water polo, the boys get a chance to be together for a whole weekend. It’s intense water polo in the day, with games one after another. A few yellow cards, a few disappointments, but also, a lot of high fives, and a lot of excitement. And always, relaxing in the hotel pool afterwards, with the boys in the water (what? more pool time?) and the parents sitting in the lobby recapping the day’s victories and losses. One day for lunch, Dragon and I snuck out to find a restaurant I had Yelped that promised good Cubano sandwiches, and we both enjoyed trying these for our first time. We spent that evening with our team in Old Town San Diego, soaking in the festive atmosphere and enjoying San Diego’s best handmade flour tortillas. The next night, we had a casual dinner at an old time diner serving the best milkshakes and burgers.
Dragon’s teammate and dear friend, Scott Wright, sent us this letter recalling their last San Diego Cup:
I have several memories of my dear friend Dragon. However, my favorite memory is the day we went to the beach in San Diego after our tournament. The rest of the team chose to go to the movies but Dragon and I wanted to go to the beach. At the beach, the water was only 50 degrees, and Dragon being the fearless guy that he was, still wanted to go in the water with our speedos! Once we were in the frigid water we began to have a competition on who could catch the best wave, and during this friendly competition, a woman on a loudspeaker began telling us to get out because of the strong rip current. We slowly got out of the water, and when we got out, I noticed some people pointing and laughing at us in our speedos, and although it was kind of embarrassing, it was by far the most memorable moment I had with him. Thanks, Dragon, for all the wonderful times we had together and also all the times we had as a team.
Thanks, Northwood Water Polo, for all the good times. We wish all teams the best of luck in San Diego this coming weekend.