Christi Raycraft has figured it out.
For the third year in a row, the senior leads the UC Davis women’s water polo team (21-8) in goals scored and total points.
This year, for the first time, she leads the Aggies in exclusions drawn and broke the season record previously held by assistant coach Katherine O’Rourke.
She has led her Aggies to an 11-1 conference record, and with a win over Santa Clara this Saturday, UC Davis will have clinched the first seed in the conference championships later this month.
With the team riding an eight-game winning streak and still on a high from a Saturday win over defending league champion Loyola Marymount, Aggie Sports Writer SAMMY BRASCH sat down with the Davis native to discuss everything from her head coach to what makes the team – ranked 10th in the nation – so successful.
I get to talk to head coach Jamey Wright twice a week, but I have a feeling you know him a little better than me. How long have you known Jamey?
I have known Jamey and he has coached me for 11 years now.
And how has your relationship changed over the years?
I mean it has been the same. I mean, in college, it’s been a bit more serious and formal relationship you could say, coming here. He is a really good person – he is a father figure to me; he is like a dad, and his brother Doug is like the fun uncle. [Laughs] Jamey is more of the serious type of the person.
Has he pretty much been recruiting you since you were out of the womb?
Well, funny story. I never played water polo before the sixth grade – it was always swimming and golf only. But Jamey ended up coaching a swim practice and from then on kept calling my house at least once a week, and telling my parents, “Get this girl to come play water polo.” But my parents kept responding, “No, swimming comes first and then golf.” So I never played – all my friends started really early, and then I started playing in the sixth grade.
So after winning eight in a row so late in the season, do you guys feel more confident going into the conference tournament?
I did not really know we had won eight in a row, but I did know that we had got 20 wins this season, which was one of our team’s goals, which was really nice to see. I guess it gives us a little bit more confidence, but it also gives us a big target on our backs. With LMU it’s up in the air, UC San Diego is going to bring it and Santa Clara is going to bring it. It really just comes down to the tournament and how well we are going to play.
In the LMU game,it looked like you personally had a little chip on your shoulder and something extra to prove. Was there something – did you really hate the girl you matched up with or just the team in general?
When we played them down in LMU earlier this season, it was a pretty rough game. We definitely outplayed them a lot, but they were awarded three five meters in the first quarter alone. I mean, I fouled out in the fourth quarter, and [Jessica] Soza had two ejections early on in the game – it was just not good. And the officiating is definitely different down in Southern California; they call a really tight game in Southern Cal. But that’s what we are going to have to adapt to when we get down to the tournament, which is going to be held at LMU this year. But I know we are going to come out hard. We want it, we have been to this tournament before and NCAAs, and we really want this. We will come out hard.
What do you think has been your key to success this year?
We have had our ups and down. I mean, one week we will do really well in something, and the next week we will suck at it. But I think overall this is the hardest we have ever trained. We are swimming a lot, doing a lot of hours – I am exhausted all the time. [Laughs] Our weights program is way different and much more intense – Matt [Brand] is really great. But really I think we are a special group. Our seniors are great – we have been together most of us for four years straight, and I don’t know, it’s just magical I guess. [Laughs]
SAMMY BRASCH can be reached at email@example.com.