2005-06 Honor Roll: Peter Varellas

In our fourth year of The Bootleg's Honor Roll, it seems strange to not announce Tony Azevedo among our winners. The "Michael Jordan of water polo" was a lock the three previous years honoring the very best of the best Stanford student-athletes. 2005 showed us, though, that Stanford men's water polo still had a hero on The Farm: senior driver Peter Varellas.

In the Summer Issue of The Bootleg Magazine, we released the 30 finalists for The Bootleg Honor Roll award for the 2005/2006 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 months of August and September, we are releasing the 10 winners of this prestigious award, one by one.  We previously have recognized Tabitha Yim, Ben Wildman-Tobriner, David Sender, Arianna Lambie, Laura Shane, Chris Minaker, Alice Barnes and Candice Wiggins amongst this year's winners.  Our ninth announced member of the The Bootleg's 2005-06 Honor Roll is men's water polo performer Peter Varellas.

Peter Varellas heard the critics.  He knew the pundits thought his team was dead in the water following the loss of 2005 senior Tony Azevedo.  Azevedo, arguably the greatest American water polo player in history, is literally an All-World athlete who excelled at the Athens Games and is now one of the only Americans on a professional contract in Europe.  Into those shoes stepped Peter Varellas, who saw to it that men's water polo's run of excellence on The Farm did not skip a beat.

Surrounded by the sport since an early age as a native of Moraga (Calif.), Varellas was a five-time swimming All-American in high school and, in water polo, played abroad for the U.S. Junior National Team.  When he got to college the expectations were just as high, and Varellas never looked out of his element – scoring seven times as a freshman and making his every season better than the one previous.

This past season, Varellas led the Cardinal with 62 goals, and the Class of 2006 graduate leaves The Farm with 168 career scores.  Not all goals are created equal, however, and Varellas earned his spot on this list with his best performances in Stanford's most important games of the season.

First, Varellas tore up the MPSF Tournament, which, like NCAAs, saw the Card take second to USC.  With 10 tallies in just three games, Varellas did his part to ensure Stanford finished the season as one of the elite teams in the only conference that matters in water polo.  That flurry of scores set the stage for an even brighter performance at NCAAs.  In the Finals, Varellas dominated the game early: winning the opening sprint for the Cardinal and scoring the Card's first goal of the match in a heartbreaking 3-2 loss.  The water polo world noticed as Varellas earned First Team All-Tournament and All-American honors for his senior campaign.

Varellas' latest display of a flair for the dramatic follows a junior season that saw five NCAA Tournament goals, three in the double-overtime loss to UCLA in the Finals.  All told, Varellas leaves the Farm a three-time NCAA All-Tournament first-teamer, the ultimate testament to his propensity to rise to the occasion, no matter how big.

When he wasn't scoring season-changing goals, Varellas was probably busy excelling in the classroom.  He leaves Stanford a three-time MPSF All-Academic honoree.

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