2004-05 Honor Roll: Tony Azevedo

For the last several years, Stanford men's water polo dominator Tony Azevedo has been called the "Tiger Woods" of his sport. But with an unrivaled four-year collegiate legacy now in the books, a lasting Olympic impression on our hearts and an unmatched professional contract recently inked... it's high time we start recognizing Azevedo simply as "the best ever."

In the Summer Issue of The Bootleg Magazine, we released the 30 finalists for The Bootleg Honor Roll award for the 2004/2005 school-year.

The criteria are as follows:

Each academic year, The Bootleg’s Honor Roll will recognize the top ten Stanford student-athletes who have performed at an exceptional level, with athletic accomplishments that are both extraordinary and inspirational.  While achieving athletic success, these athletes should also have displayed uncommon leadership, sportsmanship and respect towards their fellow teammates and opponents.  Finally, these honorees’ performances and actions should also demonstrate their love for their particular sport as well as their school pride, the famed “Spirit of Stanford.”

During the month of August, we will be releasing the 10 winners of this prestigious award, one by one.  Our first announced member of the The Bootleg's 2004-05 Honor Roll is men's water polo performer Tony Azevedo.

Steve Spurrier, O.J. Simpson, Archie Griffin, Marcus Allen, Vinny Testaverde.  In college football, just skimming the list of Heisman Trophy winners conjures enough images of greatness to form goose bumps on your skin.  (Just ask a Stanford diehard about 1970 winner Jim Plunkett.)  Consider then, that when Tony Azevedo received the Peter J. Cutino Award recently in June, the Stanford standout was no stranger to the award widely considered the Heisman Trophy of water polo.  In fact, the 2004 campaign marked the graduating Stanford senior's fourth consecutive Cutino – an accomplishment nearly impossible to fathom.

For Azevedo however, the four straight Cutinos were just one of many remarkable feats achieved during his Cardinal career. The Long Beach, Calif. native was the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) Player of the Year four years running and he led Stanford in scoring in each of his four years on The Farm.  He concludes his college career as a four-time First Team All-American.

Azevedo will not merely be remembered for his accolades, however.  The man played the largest when the games mattered the most.  His 15 scores at the 2004 Olympics topped all but one water polo player at Athens.  At Stanford, Azevedo notched a school-record 332 goals over his career, but just as importantly, he tallied 11 scores in the four national title games in which he played.  Though Stanford fell in overtime in the last two national title contests, the recent runner-up finishes couple with championships in 2001 and 2002 to leave an unmistakable imprint upon Azevedo's legacy: champion.

This past winter, Azevedo signed with a professional club in Italy to the tune of nearly $300,000 annually – the largest deal ever for an American water polo player.  With Azevedo under contract in Italy and the Beijing Games on the horizon, it appears his Stanford degree in International Relations will serve him well in years to come.

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