Jan. 3, 2011
Stockton, Calif. - Joey Gullikson (Sonoma, Calif.) saved his best for last. “I thought, ‘It’s my last season’ and I took advantage of that and left it all out there,” said Gullikson.
In his last month as a member of the Pacific Tigers water polo team, Gullikson was named the November Competitor of the Month – an award that is given to a Pacific athlete who demonstrates unusual or remarkable competitive effort. Out of Pacific’s 294 student-athletes, only eight are chosen for the award each year.
“It’s a big honor,” Gullikson said, “Every time I walk in to the athletic department I see that (Competitor of the Month poster) and strive to be that.” Gullikson will be recognized during halftime at Pacific’s men’s basketball game against Cal State Bakersfield on January 11.
The six-foot-two, 200 pound defender posted a total of 14 goals for a 1.75 goals per game average in November.
But it was his impressive performance against Stanford on November 14 that set him apart from other November Competitor of the Month considerations.
Gullikson scored a career-high five goals to lead the then ranked No. 6 Tigers in a 10-9 upset over the No. 3 Cardinal. The victory marked Pacific’s first win over Stanford since the 2006 season and just the fifth time in program history. It also prompted the program’s first No. 4 national ranking in the Collegiate Water Polo Association’s top-20 poll since the census began in 1995.
“It’s crazy it happened,” said Gullikson, who was also named NCAA.com’s Player of the Week on November 16. “It’s a good thing it ended on that note.” Gullikson went on to finish his senior season with 27 goals for a 1.00 gpg average to go along with 20 steals and 30 assists.
With the 2010 water polo season complete, the 23 year old will now turn his focus on school. Gullikson will be graduating in May 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in sport sciences with a concentration in sport pedagogy. But this doesn’t mean he’s completely done with water polo.
“(The Competitor of the Month award) kind of gives me a sense of accomplishment and motivation to keep moving forward,” said Gullikson, who wants to keep playing after college. Thus far, Gullikson said he has talked to teams in Croatia, Portugal, Spain and Italy. Gullikson said he will consider the situation and his role on the team before making a final decision.
Until that point, Gullikson will continue to live his competitive lifestyle, whether it’s playing FIFA or jungle ball in the pool with friends.
“Everything I do, I’m competitive, especially with my buddies,” said Gullikson, “It starts to get pretty scrappy.”
“Second place means nothing,” he said.
Gullikson has always had a busy schedule. The right-hander grew up playing baseball as a catcher and “from there, I carried it over to every sport I played.” In high school, Gullikson was a three-sport athlete, competing in water polo, swimming and baseball. Then in junior college, Gullikson dominated the water polo and swimming scene while receiving All-American honors in both sports.
The senior said he would’ve liked to play more than one sport at Pacific but that “it’s such a commitment to play water polo.”
As a result, Gullikson has more free time now that the season is over. But his competitive nature won’t let him rest.
“Sometimes I forget…I think there’s something I should be doing,” said Gullikson.