Boys Water Polo: Homewood-Flossmoor’s Kevin Kuchta the SouthtownStar 2013 Player of the Year
By Steve Millar For Sun-Times Media June 9, 2013 6:44PM
Lockport's Dan Schaak (18) attempts to stop a shot from Homewood-Flossmoor's Kevin Kuchta (4). | Paul James Bergstrom~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 11, 2013 6:08AM
Despite his ability to pile up goals, Kevin Kuchta considers himself first and foremost a defensive player.
“The mentality I have is of a player more focused on defense,” he said. “I always feel like defense is the most important. We’re probably not going to win many games 15-14. When we get stops, it’s a great momentum builder.”
The Homewood-Flossmoor senior was terrific defensively. Often matched up against the opponent’s top scorer, he was a big reason the Vikings allowed just seven goals a game on their way to an appearance in the state quarterfinals.
Kuchta wasn’t too shabby on offense, either, totaling 133 goals and 33 assists.
Kuchta’s ability to shine on both sides of the ball — and his leadership of a young H-F squad — helped him earn the title of SouthtownStar 2013 Boys Water Polo Player of the Year.
“It feels great to get this honor,” Kuchta said. “Ever since my freshman year I’ve always read in the paper about the athletes of the year, and it feels great to be one of them.”
Kuchta also accomplished another career goal, being named First Team All-State.
“My brother (David) was second team his senior year and I always wanted to beat that,” Kuchta said. “I was honorable mention my first two years and second team last year, so it feels good to take that final leap to first team.”
Kuchta was a freshman on the 2010 H-F squad that made it to state. After the Vikings fell in the sectional finals the next two seasons, he was hungry to get back.
In the Lincoln-Way North Sectional championship May 11, Kuchta showed how dominant he can be. He scored seven goals and almost single-handedly carried the Vikings down the stretch in a 9-8 overtime win over Lockport.
Despite four goals from Kuchta, H-F fell 13-6 in the state quarterfinals to Fenwick, which went on to win its 10th state title in 12 years.
The loss didn’t diminish the Vikings’ great playoff run.
“All season long our goal was to get back to state and we made it,” Kuchta said. “We would have liked to have played a better game against Fenwick, but we achieved everything we wanted to this year.”
On a team with just three seniors — Mike Mitchell and Edgar Wright were the others — Kuchta’s experience was invaluable.
“He would make a great coach one day,” H-F coach Tim Caldwell said. “He leads in the pool and he leads on the deck. The kids all look to him. They all want to hear what he has to say.”
Kuchta embraced the leadership role.
“I definitely enjoy it,” he said. “As a four-year varsity player, I’ve been around the longest and I know the team was all looking up to me. I kind of pride myself on stepping up and leading the team.”
Kuchta had opportunities to extend his water polo career at a small college. Instead, he plans to attend the University of Kansas and play for the Jayhawks’ club team.
“I just felt like I’m not a good fit for a small school,” Kuchta said. “I found a bigger school that I like that has club. That’s all I need. I just need to play.”