Jan. 30, 2003
Matt Flesher took home the James Bariteau Most Inspirational Award while Brandon Brooks was given the second annual Dr. James Puffer Loyalty and Contribution Award at the 2002 UCLA Men's Water Polo banquet held last Saturday.
The two seniors led the Bruins to a third-place finish in the MPSF Tournament and a victory over eventual National Champion Stanford. Both All-America selections, the tandem also helped UCLA finish ranked fourth the NCAA in 2002.
Last season, Jon Puffer won the first ever Dr. Puffer award which is named after his father. The Jack Bariteau award was given to Jeff Plueger in 2001.
Dr. James Puffer played an integral role in the success of the men's water polo program and UCLA Athletics as a whole. Puffer was a three-year water polo letterwinner (1969-71) and member of two national championship teams ('69 and '71).
He also attended UCLA Medical School and earned his doctorate in 1976. Puffer attained a family practice residency at UCLA Medical Center upon his graduation. He was named Chief of the Division of Family Medicine in 1983 and helped to make the discipline a department in 1997 of which he chaired until 1998.
Dr. Puffer was also an instrumental figure within the UCLA Athletic Department serving as a team physician and the Chief of Sports Medicine until his departure last last year. He was an Olympic team physician during the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul, Korea. In 1991, Dr. Puffer was instrumental in raising funds to endow the men's water polo program when its existence was at risk. He served as a mentor to UCLA athletes and coaches alike.
In December of 2001, Dr. Puffer left UCLA to assume the position of Executive Director of the American Board of Family Practice in Lexington, Kentucky. Although he will be greatly missed, Puffer stated that he could not pass up "the opportunity to provide effective and dynamic leadership to my discipline."
It was in honor of his leadership and devotion to UCLA that the Dr. James Puffer Loyality and Contribution Team Award was created in 2001. Jeff Pflueger and Dr. Puffer's son, Jon, were selected as the award's first recipents last season.