Greg Wilson, the top scorer this season on UC Irvine's water polo team, soon will be faced with a career decision: Will he stay lean, mean and smelling of chlorine or immerse himself in gourmet cuisine?
Wilson, who leads the fourth-ranked Anteaters with 25 goals, is a member of the United States national team, but he is not one of the select 13 players who will participate in the Olympics next summer. He's close enough, however, that four more years of dedication could mean a ticket to the 1992 Olympics.
On the other hand, he would like to attend the California Culinary Institute in San Francisco and begin a career as a chef.
"I've always loved cooking," Wilson said. "My parents were divorced when I was a kid and I learned to fend for myself in the kitchen. I worked as a short-order cook in a coffee shop for a while, and although it got monotonous sometimes, I still enjoyed it."
Early morning--and sometimes early evening--workouts combined with a full load of schoolwork, makes for a busy schedule, but Wilson still finds the time to whip up a special meal on occasion.
"About once every quarter, Greg has a dinner party and puts together a great gourmet meal," said Mark Maizel, Irvine's All-American goalie and Wilson's roommate. "The rest of the time, we have to settle for macaroni and cheese or spaghetti."
Coach Ted Newland redshirted Wilson, Maizel, Mike Doting and Tony Bell last season. Bell is a junior; the other three are seniors. Wilson may have been the least-recognized of the group, but he has emerged as the Anteaters' top offensive weapon.
"I saw him in a training camp for the junior national team after he graduated (from El Toro High School)," Newland said. "Nobody was recruiting him; the kid looked like a piece of garbage physically, but I thought he had some potential.
"He didn't play at all his freshman year here but really started to develop as a sophomore. He's got great balance, a great feel for the water and some very interesting moves. He moves laterally extremely well. Once he figured out what he was doing, he became a national-caliber athlete."
Maizel calls Wilson the team's "spark plug" and says the reason he hasn't received more accolades has more to do with his role than his talent.
"In 1985, he was still our nucleus, but he played both ends of the pool and didn't score a lot. We had (Jeff) Campbell and (J.R.) Salvatore, two of the best players in the country, and they took 80% of our shots."
Wilson began the season in a similar role, guarding opponents' "two-meter man," which is equivalent to guarding a high-scoring center in the NBA.
"Not everyone can be a star," Wilson said. "I began the year with the idea that I would do whatever was necessary to get us into the NCAAs. I started with a more defensive posture. I was picking up a lot of fouls, and after the Stanford game (Oct. 2), Coach Newland told me to concentrate more on offense."
The Anteaters were 3-2 at that point. With Wilson leading the offense, UCI is now 10-4 and 5-0 in the Pacific Coast Athletic Assn.
"He's a neat kid to work with," Newland said. "He's worked very hard and, if he's willing to put in the time and effort, he's got a chance at '92. But he wants to be a chef, too. He's floating in both directions."
Wilson would like to find a way to wear two hats: those tall white ones in the kitchen and those funny little caps in the pool.
"Maybe I could go up there to chef's school and train at Stanford or Cal at the same time," Wilson said. "I really don't know if it's feasible. I may have to make a choice, but right now I can't say what that would be."
As long as he keeps cooking in the pool, Newland can wait.
UCI is playing host to the Rolex-ITCA (International Tennis Coaches' Assn.) Southern California Women's Tennis Championships beginning today and running through Sunday.
UCLA's Joni Urban, ranked 18th in both singles and doubles by the ITCA last year, is the top-seeded player. Pepperdine's Ginger Helgeson is seeded second and Tricia Laux is seeded third.
The event is a regional qualifying tournament, with the singles and doubles winners advancing to the ITCA National Indoor Championships in Minneapolis, Feb. 4-7, an indoor equivalent of the NCAA championships.
"We're lobbying for getting automatic qualifying spots for the finalists in singles and doubles," said Doreen Irish, the UCI women's tennis coach. "We've got six of the nation's top teams in our region."
Play begins at 8 a.m. today and 9 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. The singles final starts at 10 a.m. Sunday, followed by the doubles final. Admission is free.
A new first-come, first-served, festival-seating arrangement has been established for students at Irvine basketball games this season. A $20 season-ticket package for all 14 home games is available to students. Reserved seats still will be sold to the general public. . . . UCI's sailing team finished second in the Pacific Coast Intercollegiate Yacht Racing Assn. Sloop Championships sailed off Newport Beach last weekend. USC won the event. Stanford was second and Orange Coast College third. In the sixth race, UCI was forced to relinquish the lead to USC when a fishing boat strayed onto the course.