The Anteater Men’s Water Polo team joins Peter Campbell’s family, friends and UC Irvine alumni to celebrate the dedication of the Peter Campbell Scoreboard in October 2023. Photo: Robert Huskey / UCI Athletics

A Legacy Beyond the Scoreboard

Despite never jumping into the pool, Pat Campbell is a game changer for UC Irvine water polo. The mother and grandmother of Anteater athletes, she is now the lead donor of a gift that will benefit men’s and women’s players for years to come.

Her three children all graduated from UC Irvine, with sons Peter Campbell ’83 and Jeff Campbell ’86 leading the men’s water polo team to the 1982 NCAA title before they competed for the USA in the Olympics. Today, her grandson Stewart Campbell is an attacker, and she can be found in the stands at the Anteater Aquatics Complex cheering the team on along with Stewart’s dad, Jeff.

When Peter passed away unexpectedly in January 2023, Pat, the family, and the Anteater water polo community were heartbroken. Peter was not just a beloved teammate, but a force to be reckoned with in the pool. A four-time All-American, Peter led the Anteaters in scoring his first three years on the team, and became the first Anteater athlete to be named NCAA Player of the Year in his final season.

“What set Peter apart was how he thought things through, strategy-wise. He never screamed for the ball; he just did whatever needed to be done,” says teammate Tony Choquehuanca ’84. “He epitomized the UCI water polo program at that time.”

“Even though he was the best player on the team, what resonated with his teammates was that he cared about us as people,” he adds.

After graduating, Peter joined the U.S. men’s national team and won silver at the 1984 Olympics and, with Jeff also in the pool, again in 1988. Peter went on to play professionally abroad, but when he was in Southern California, he volunteered to help coach the new generation of Anteater athletes.

In the wake of Peter’s passing, Water Polo Director Dan Klatt suggested honoring Peter’s legacy by fixing something that had become a bit of a sore point: the old scoreboard. Pat had even overheard visitors complaining about not being able to read the score when she attended her grandson’s games.

Pat jump started the effort with the lead gift, and then wrote letters to friends and family asking for their support. Choquehuanca and fellow teammates called alumni and friends to break the news and invite them to participate, often hearing stories about Peter that illuminated his character and reminded them why he was so beloved. Within a matter of weeks, 70 donors contributed $200,000 to honor Peter’s legacy with a new scoreboard that would make Anteater athletes, past and present, proud.

“I’m just amazed at all the people who came forward. There are so, so many,” says Pat.

On a sunny day in October 2023, as the water polo season wound down, current athletes and alumni, Peter’s family, former UC Irvine and Olympic teammates, and friends, gathered at the Anteater Aquatics Center to celebrate him.

Pat Campbell (right) with her grandson Stewart Campbell, who is an attacker for the Anteaters and wears his uncle Peter Campbell’s number.

“It was a beautiful day, absolutely beautiful,” says Pat. It was also the type of fuss that Peter, quiet and reserved, would have shied away from. But his friends and family hope that the scoreboard is a reminder not only of Peter’s legacy, but of the important bonds shared by Anteaters in and out of the water.

“I hope that students understand their experiences and friendships last more than just four years in college,” says Choquehuanca. “They last a lifetime.”

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