A native of Long Beach, California, Noah LeBeau is the goalkeeper and one of the leaders on the Fordham water polo team. Coming off of a season in which he was named a CWPA Second Team All-Northern Division selection, LeBeau has already garnered two Defensive Player of the Week Awards this season and is looking to build on this success.
The Fordham Ram: You’re originally from California. What made you want to come to Fordham?
Noah LeBeau: I had the decision to either go to a junior college, keep playing there and get better at playing water polo, or to come to New York and do something different: play for a Division I team right out of high school instead of waiting. I came out on a recruiting trip and I loved the team. I like my coach. I just wanted something different. Not a lot of California kids ever leave.
TFR: How did you start playing water polo in the first place?
NL: I had a buddy that was on swim team with me when I was 12. I’ve swam since I was about five or six. He told me about water polo and that I should start playing. I went to my first practice when I was 13 and I’ve played ever since.
TFR: Why did you start playing goalie of all positions? Did you choose it?
NL: It was my first tournament with my club. We didn’t have a set goalie for the team yet, so I was playing the field. One of the first things I remember is this guy coming at me when I had the ball and I freaked out. I just threw the ball with two hands as far as I could. It was clear I didn’t know what I was doing in the field. In my second game, this kid came on a one-on-nobody counter-attack, so it was only him against me. He shot the ball and I blocked it, but it fell right in front of him, so he shot it again and I blocked it again. Then he shot it again and I blocked it one more time made it three in a row and ever since then, I’ve never not been the goalie.
TFR: They say that in order to be a goalie, it helps to be a little crazy. Do you think that’s true?
NL: You’ve got to have the mental strength to be okay with getting scored on. I’ve known a lot of goalies that will take it personally every time they get scored on, whereas I have no problem blaming the defense. I’ve been hit in the face with the ball countless times. I’m lucky I don’t have my nose shattered. I don’t think I’m crazy, but ask my roommate!
TFR: How has the team evolved since your first season?
NL: We had a bad record that season. We were disorganized and we bickered. There wasn’t a lot of leadership. Some of the older guys from my freshman season were plagued with a bad attitude, but some of the juniors had a better attitude and that attitude has moved forward through to my senior year. The mindset of the team is way more positive than it was my freshman year. We also had the addition of coach Bacharach, who made a huge difference in the organization of the team. He has an offensive, defensive and counterattacking scheme that we run an all around game plan instead of us just going for it.
TFR: Being one of the seniors on the team, do you feel any added pressure to be more of a leader?
NL: Since freshman year, I’ve had to take some of that leadership role just with being a goalie, being communicative on defense and with setting a tone going into offense. Now, in my senior year, I don’t feel more pressure from the team. If anything, I feel less. I know that they respect me. They know that I want to win and that I’ll do anything to help them. I feel more pressure from myself because this is my last year playing competitive water polo. I want to do the best I possibly can in my last season.
TFR: What’s your favorite memory in your career as a Ram?
NL: There was one weekend my freshman year where we played MIT and Harvard at home and we won both games. We played MIT in the morning, and I was in goal. But for the Harvard game, in the first quarter, my knee started killing me. It was the worst it had ever been and I couldn’t play. The senior goalie, who’s spot I had taken that year, came in. He and I had a great relationship. There was a little bit of love-hate, but he played well that game and we ended up winning. It was the best overall day I think we’ve ever had. To come together as a team and make a difference probably made it the best day.
TFR: And lastly, what are your post-grad plans?
NL: Right now I have a plan to bike across the country with one of my best friends from high school. He’ll fly out here and we’ll bike across together. After that, my roommate and I have been talking about what we might do. Our consensus is to travel abroad as soon as possible. He and I went to Argentina this past semester to study abroad. We want to take the opportunity to go work abroad as soon as possible and keep evolving as international human beings. Whether or not we’ll travel together or separate and come back together in the future is all a mystery, and I look forward to seeing it unfold.