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Q&a With Genai Kerr:

Former Team USA goalie open, honest

WATER POLO: Former UC Irvine standout goalie talks with third-grade class at Newport Sports Museum Friday morning.

February 13, 2009|By David Carrillo PeƱaloza

A 6-foot-8, 225-pound world-class athlete stood up in front of a third-grade class at the Newport Sports Museum Friday morning and asked a question almost everyone gets wrong.

"How many know what sport I play?" Genai Kerr said.

"Basketball!" one boy yelled.

"Football!" a girl screamed.

"Golf!" said a boy, putting a shocked look on Kerr's face.

C'mon, Kerr is way more ripped than your average pro golfer. He even had a poster to prove it.

Kerr eventually told the class from Clara Barton Elementary in Long Beach he was a former U.S. Olympic water polo goalie.

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Students stared oddly at the 32-year-old. Most of them had no idea about the game of water polo. Where do you play it, in your home's tub, or the Pacific Ocean?

Kerr, dressed in business attire, put on his tight red cap with the No. 1 on it.

"I have 60% of my uniform on," Kerr told the class, which didn't know what to expect next.

Those who understood the rest of a water polo's required uniform were glad Kerr didn't take his slacks off.

No Speedo.

The former UC Irvine standout exposed a lot more, in a figurative sense.

Kerr talked about his childhood, stressed the importance of academics, his Olympic dreams, and also the pitfalls from taking performance-enhancing drugs.

Jorden Hampton, 8, was captivated by Kerr. It didn't matter that the last time the third-grader saw a yellow ball like the one Kerr played with was during recess while playing tetherball.

Like many of the students at the museum, Hampton saw someone who looks like him, someone who's African-American, a role model to look up to in Kerr.

The Daily Pilot caught up with Kerr after he signed dozens of autographs for kids, who were close to waist high when they gave Kerr a sheet, or their shirt for him to sign.

Question: Why do you come out and talk to kids?

Answer: My passion is to be able give back to kids. Most of my family members are in education, so I'm always around younger kids. They're so easily influenced at this age, so it's nice to be able to be a part of their influence in life. For me, sports and academics, were the great focus and [activities] of my childhood. Being able to share my experiences is amazing. I happen to be very fortunate that I had a good story that enabled me to succeed all the way to the Olympics.

From a young age, I had such great role models and coaches and teachers that ... I've always wanted to become a teacher.

Q: Does anybody think you're a water polo player?

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