We recently caught up with Gaucho Great All American Derek Shoemaker '16 who continues the tradition of other exceptional UCSB Water Polo players pursuing professional ranks after their collegiate Careers. Derek now plays for the Balmain Tigers, a professional team based in the Inner West suburb of Balmain in Sydney, New South Wales.
GP= Gaucho Polo DS = Derek Shoemaker
GP How often do you practice and how frequently do you play games?
DS We practice Monday nights, Tuesday morning 6am/Tuesday nights, and Thursday morning/ Thursday night. While our schedule isn't too rigorous, it is encouraged to get in the water on you're off days and get the blood flowing. We usually go for runs to the beach and bodysurf if we have a day off training
GP Are the Spiders really as big as they say?
DS I have yet to encounter any large spiders and I'm hoping it stays that way!
GP Food you miss most.
DS Mexican food! You can't find a good Mexican spot in Sydney and it's definitely a real issue.
GP Do the professional teams play year around or just certain seasons?
DS Everyone trains year round but the main competition runs from January to April and it's considered the Australian national league.
GP Are most of the international players in the League from the United States? If not what other countries?
DS So each team is allowed 2 to 3 imports depending on where your team finished the year prior and you'll see imports from all around the world. We have an import from Cal, Thomas Agramonte, who I've been playing with and against since we were 14 and a third import from Britain who has competed in the London Olympics and has played professionally in France and Spain.
GP If fans come visit what is the one thing not to miss while in Australia?
DS I haven't gotten to explore too much during season but we went on a couple really amazing waterfall hikes and I would definitely recommend them to anyone coming for a visit.
GP How would you rank the level of competition to the National League or US Open?
DS The league here is similar to the US national league in that both include Olympic level players and up and coming players going through the national pipeline, however, I think the addition of imports in Australia makes for a more competitive league in which many teams have a chance to win.
GP Any advice for aspiring Gauchos wanting to follow your footsteps?
DS If you're finished with college water polo and you aren't completely ready to call it quits, playing in Australia is a great way to continue playing, meeting new people, traveling, and having some fun!