Jan. 13, 2007
Los Angeles - UCLA men's water polo seniors Will Didinger and Michael March were honored with the Jack Bariteau Jr. "Most Inspirational" Award and classmate James Palmer earned the Dr. James Puffer Loyalty and Contribution Award at the 2006 men's water polo team banquet Saturday evening at UCLA.
The Jack Bariteau Jr. Award, an honor decided by the team, is given annually to the player(s) who has earned the utmost respect of his peers through inspirational play and an exceptional daily work ethic.
Didinger tallied a 5.18 goals against average in 11 games as a senior. The Manhattan Beach, Calif. resident split time in the cage with freshman Chay Lapin.
March earned first-team All-America accolades after having scored 25 goals for the Bruins. The Newport Coast, Calif. native missed the entire 2005 season with a back injury before returning to the pool in the summer of 2006.
The Dr. James Puffer Award is annually awarded to the player whose loyalty to his teammates goes unmatched. An award decided by the coaching staff, this honor signifies the player's strong contribution to the UCLA men's water polo program, both in the water, in the classroom and in the community.
Palmer, an attacker from Marin, Calif., established himself as a team leader for the Bruins in 2006. He scored three goals in the fall, including a two-goal performance in the team's season-opening victory over Cal Baptist on Sept. 14.
Didinger and former Bruin David Pietsch earned the Dr. James Puffer Award in 2005.
Both awards were introduced at the 2001 banquet. That season, Jon Puffer and Jeff Pflueger received the Dr. James Puffer Award and current assistant coach Brandon Brooks earned the accolade in 2002. Alfonso Tucay was the inaugural recipient of the Jack Bariteau Jr. Award, while current assistant coach Matt Flesher was honored in 2002.