After being named an All-American as a high school senior at Menlo School, a stone’s throw from Palm Drive, senior Scott Platshon earned the starting goalkeeper job this season for the Stanford men’s water polo team. Platshon allowed just one goal in his first career start and has No. 3 Stanford set to make a run at a NCAA Tournament berth when the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Tournament begins on Nov. 23.
Platshon sat down with The Daily ahead of this weekend’s matches against UC-Davis and Santa Clara to discuss all things Stanford, 80s music and water polo.
The Stanford Daily (TSD): Let’s start off with a softball. If there was a top-five most played on your iPod or on the locker room iPod, what would be on it?
Scott Platshon (Platshon): It’s funny you ask that, because I’m actually the DJ every day before practice. We have a nice Bose sound system in the locker and I DJ, which is especially important before morning practice when we need to get the morale up. I go mostly 80s, kind of a lot of Bruce Springsteen, and a lot of Journey.
And then since I really have to cater to the whole team, and on our team trip to Hawaii a song called “Don’t drop that Dun-Dun-Dun” became like our team song, as well as “Let’s Do It Again” by J Boog Those two are when we really need a morale boost before a 6:30 a.m. practice. The team’s looking tired and mad at having to be there, so you throw that on the speakers, heads start lifting up, and you know you’re going to have a good practice.
(TSD): As someone who’s been there and kind of done that in your fourth year on the Farm, and especially as the goalie on the team who anchors the defense, what is your role as a leader for the team?
(Platshon): Those are two good points you bring up. Just by being the goalie you’re kind of thrust into a leadership position. The goalie has a special opportunity, first because you’re supposed to block everything that comes at you, but also because you have the ability to block stuff when the defense kind of messes up, and save your teammates in a way, and that right there is a morale boost that can change the whole game. It’s a special position.
Outside of being the goalie, it’s a really long season. We’re here all summer, have three weeks of intense preseason, and then play every weekend until December. So it’s really important to strike a balance between having a ton of fun at practice and keeping the mood light but at the same time staying focused. I’ve been on teams in the past, and there were years [when] we were far too serious and tense. And then water polo didn’t become as fun and the level of play declined. But there have been years when we’ve also been too goofy. I see myself as someone who can read the mood, and if we need to be serious buckle down, but then also at times keep things light and fun.
(TSD): Kids don’t exactly flock to water polo. How did you get into the sport and what was it that made you want to take it to such a high level?
(Platshon): My beginning in water polo comes from my brothers, and is kind of also why I’m a goalie. We have a little pool at my house, and both my brothers played. My brother [Kevin] won two NCAA titles at Cal. They’d come home from practice and [want to] shoot, so they would throw me in the goal. I couldn’t block anything for years and years and years, but then I kind of learned to play better. And I always kind of stuck with goalie. So that was my path to water polo.
But the reason I love the sport so much, in the simplest terms I can put it, is that it’s just a beautiful combination of the good things offered in other sports. I love fast-paced sports–I could never play baseball–and I love that there’s never any down time in water polo. It’s an incredibly demanding sport and it combines everything I loved in the games I was playing when I was younger. I loved being in the water and the fast pace of basketball, and I ended up being decently good at water polo.
(TSD): Where should I go if I’m looking for a killer meal at any hour of the day.
(Platshon): Burrito night on Wednesdays at KA. For sure. Hmm, I’m trying to think of any hidden gems I have. I’ll say my go-to study spot–I like to drink coffee so sometimes I sneak it into the library from Coupa, but that’s kind of difficult. My spot is the secret Starbucks…You get a soup from Safeway for $1.29, get yourself a coffee and settle down for two, three hours to crush some studying.
(TSD): What has been your favorite experience with water polo here at Stanford?
(Platshon): My freshman year I had a pretty special opportunity to train under Jimmy Sandman. He was a fifth-year senior so it was only for one quarter, but training with him, just emulating what he did in the goal, and learning his style–how to communicate, how to lead, how to carry yourself on the team–was an incredible experience, and I credit that with a lot of my success right now.
But one of the most fun moments I had, I’d have to say winning NorCals my freshman year was awesome. Even though I played zero minutes in that whole tournament, you really feel like you’re part of the team challenging your teammates every day in practice and being there. But then also starting and playing in a big game for the first time is awesome. Going to overtime in my second start ever against USC was kind of like what I had been working for since I was a 12-and-under. We lost the game but I wouldn’t trade anything for that experience. I can’t wait to be in that situation again. That’s when I feel like I thrive and our team thrives and that’s why I play sports.
(TSD): Everyone’s asking this time of year, but do you have any post-graduation plans?
(Platshon): I’m trying to go to medical school at some point, and I shadowed a doctor in the ER two years ago. That’s something I might be interested in, and they say they love ex-student athletes in the ER because it’s almost the same as sports. You have to deal with a situation as a team, it’s high pressure, high intensity and it gave me that same adrenaline you get playing high-level sports.
(TSD): OK, you’re stranded on a desert island and you can spare three books not to use as kindling. What’re you reading for the next 50 years? (TSD):
(Platshon): This is a tough one. Let’s start with Harry Potter. And the Hunger Games.
(TSD): That’s like 10 books right there, Scott.
(Platshon): I can’t just take the whole series? Damn! OK, then “Bringing Down the House,” by Ben Mezrich. “Holes,” by Louis Sachar. And if I’m on an island, I have to have something of value. “Great Expectations”–a little C-Dickens. When you’re reading the first 50 pages it’s kind of boring, but then you get into it.
(TSD):Last question. What’s the worst thing about spending all of your days in a pool?
(Platshon): Well you’re always pruning and wrinkly. But there’s nothing worse than coming out of the locker room in a Speedo when it 45 degrees outside and then having to jump into a pool that you think is like 32 degrees.
(TSD): That just sounds terrible. Thanks so much Scott.
(Platshon): No, thank you.