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Hall of Fame: Jim Kruse (Water polo)

August 06, 2001

Richard Dunn

Growing up, his protective parents outlawed playing tackle

football, but Jim Kruse was given a clear lane in water polo, which

seemed to them like a nice thing to do.

But, then, they saw the pounding at two meters and head-butting near

the cage and thought twice about their approval.

"My parents came to their first water polo game and said, 'I'm not

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sure I like you playing this sport.' But I said, 'Well, it's too late

now."' said Kruse, who would become a key member of the U.S. national

team, following an NCAA All-American career at UC Irvine.

From 1972 through the mid-80s, Kruse competed for the high-profile

Newport Harbor Water Polo Foundation, a summer club program under UCI

Coach Ted Newland. The foundation squad would play against the best open

competition in the country and vie each year for Amateur Athletic Union

titles.

Kruse, a former Newport Beach resident who became a hugely successful

commercial real estate broker in the 1980s, was an All-CIF Southern

Section choice at Fullerton High (Class of '70), then starred at

Fullerton College and UCI for two years each.

Kruse, who was 14 when he started playing, was an All-American at UCI

in 1972 and '73 under Newland. In 1986, Kruse was inducted into the UCI

Athletic Hall of Fame.

A two-meter standout in high school and community college, Kruse was

switched to driver at UCI, which lost to UCLA in the NCAA championship

game both years he was an Anteater.

Even though Kruse played on the U.S. national team from 1973 through

'78, he never played in the Olympics, because Team USA failed to qualify

for the 1976 Montreal Games.

After retiring from water polo in 1978 to enter the commercial real

estate business, Kruse wondered if he would regret the move, despite the

fact that he had become the top producer at Cushman and Wakefield and was

well on his way to living the type of lifestyle he was seeking.

Then Kruse heard about President Jimmy Carter's boycott of the 1980

Moscow Games, and, suddenly, "wow ... I felt maybe I was justified in

making the decision (to retire)."

Kruse, however, has remained in water polo as a television commentator

for NBC Sports during its Olympic coverage. While Kruse might have come

up short in his athletic quest to reach the coveted Summer Games, he has

more than made up for it behind the mike, having covered the last five

Olympic Games (from Los Angeles in 1984 to Sydney in 2000).

Though Kruse often thinks about the Olympic playing opportunity which

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