Joe Plume: A Great Example

Sept. 10, 2010

In a time when athletes have begun specializing in sports at younger and younger ages, it is rare for a Division I athlete to successfully compete in more than one. Senior Joe Plume has somehow managed to do just that. Originally recruited to swim at UC Santa Barbara, Plume is now in his third and final season playing for the Gaucho men's water polo team after exhausting his swimming eligibility last spring.

A dual sport high school athlete, Plume had the stressful decision as to whether he wanted to pursue a swimming or water polo career at the collegiate level. After some debate, he committed early to the UCSB swim program.

"This was the only school I applied to and the only school I went on a recruiting trip to," Plume said. "I just knew I wanted to be a Gaucho."

During his sophomore season at UCSB, Plume and a friend went to cheer on the Gaucho men's water polo team at the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Tournament, which was held in Berkeley during Thanksgiving weekend of 2007. It was then, watching from the stands, that he got the urge to play again.

After thinking about it throughout the rest of that swimming season, Plume discussed the idea with head swim coach Gregg Wilson.

"Gregg said I could do it, but that it was his decision if I could come back to the team," Plume said. "But I always knew I would be welcome back."

So, after two years away from the sport, Plume once again found himself playing water polo.

"When he first came to the water polo team, I was a little skeptical that he was ever going to play for us," said head water polo coach Wolf Wigo. "He hadn't played for two years - since high school - and it seemed like he had lost a little bit of his water polo skills.

"At first I thought, worse case scenario, he could be training really hard pushing all of our players and making our team better. And he has done that, he has definitely pushed the other guys in workouts, especially in the swimming, pushing the other guys to be as fast as possible but at the same time, he has improved tremendously."

In his first season on the water polo team, Plume saw limited action, playing in just a handful of games and recording just one goal. Following the fall season, he got back to work with the swim team the week immediately following the MPSF Tournament for water polo. It was then that he made a switch from the middle distance group to the sprint group.

"I feel like it was mutually beneficial (being on both teams)," Plume said. "I got my speed up and water polo helped me improve my reaction time."

During the 2009-10 school year, his final season with the swim team and his second with the water polo team, Plume flourished in both sports. In the fall, he played in most games for the polo team and scored five goals, tallied eight assists and drew 12 ejections. He followed that up with one of his best swim seasons and was a finalist in both the 200 free and 500 free at the Big West Championships.

This fall, Plume will be completing in his final season with the water polo team while simultaneously finishing his degree in Global Studies. The dual-sport athlete is expected to finish his fifth year at UCSB on a high point.

"This year we expect him to be a key contributor to the team," Wigo said. "That's just a testament to all of his hard work and his energy. And he is coming off of a great year with the swim team, so we look for big things out of Joe this year."

As for Plume, he is just looking forward to being a part of the team and making every minute in the pool count.

"It's not about who plays how many minutes," Plume said. "When I get in the pool, I go all out all the time because I am only going to be in for a few minutes. I am going to sprint and do what I need to do to help my team win."

In his five years at UCSB, not only have two programs benefited from Plume's athletic abilities and work ethic, they have also reaped the benefits of his positive energy.

"Joe Plume is just an all-around great guy, he always has a smile on his face," said Wigo. "Everybody loves to be around him."

Plume - who was named Mr. Gaucho at the 2010 SB Awards for epitomizing Gaucho spirit - enjoys cheering on all UCSB teams.

"I just give all my energy all the time," Plume said. "I show up and cheer for the teams and support whoever is playing on the court or in the pool."

This season, he has high hopes that his team will be making other Gaucho fans stand up and cheer.

"I am looking forward to playing games," Plume said. "Our team is really good, really cohesive this year, more so than year's past. I think we are ready to bring it every game and play well every game as a team."

1. What are your favorite things to do when you're not playing water polo?
Camping/hiking, reposing with friends, ping pong and baking/cooking.

2. If you could have dinner with any three people, dead or alive, who would they be?
Jim Morrison, Salvador Dali and Martha Stewart.

3. What is your favorite class that you have taken at UCSB?
Religious Studies 155 - Religion During the Vietnam War. This class changed my life, I encourage everyone to take this class.

4. Who is your favorite UCSB professor?
Mark Juergensmeyer, Director of Global Studies and my landlord.

5. If you could only watch one movie for the rest of your life, what would it be?
The Sound of Music

6. What trait do you most admire in others?

7. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?
Santa Cruz Island

8. To you, what would be the perfect meal?
Bruschetta, Waldorf salad, sweet yams, flank steak, cheesecake and 15 friends.

9. What was the last song you loaded onto your iPod?
"Pink Floyd - Welcome to the Machine" (Soul Controller Dubstep Remix)

10. Who are your role models?
UCSB water polo alum (and member of the Gauchos ICA Hall of Fame), Dave Hendrickson

11. If you could trade lives with one person for one week, who would it be?
Bear Grylls

12. Do you have any pregame rituals?
Eat a good, healthy breakfast.

13. If after this year you had one more year of eligibility and could play on any UCSB team (besides swimming and water polo), which would it be?
UCSB Diving (technically, I could still dive this season).

14. If there were a movie of your life, who would you cast as yourself?
Leonardo DiCaprio

15. What are the two best things about waking up in Santa Barbara every day?
Having the cleanest kitchen on Oceanside DP in the nicest house on Del Playa.

16. What is your favorite spot on campus?
Rec Cen Hot Tub

17. What is one thing that people don't know about you...until now?
I can out-bake any Gaucho under the table.

18. If you were on a deserted island and could have only three things with you, what would they be?
A nice book, salami and a bottle of wine (don't worry folks, he's over 21).

19. Do you have any special talents? If so, what are they?
I can juggle, which isn't that special...unless I am juggling eggs.

20. What's the best thing about being a Gaucho?
The beautiful Gauchettes.


To see previous Great Examples, please click here.

If you would like to nominate a student-athlete as a Great Example, please call 805.893.8603 or e-mail Lisa Skvarla at