Looking back on his Olympic experience more than 14 years ago,
Greg Boyer realizes that earning any medal is winning, especially
since water polo in the United States doesn't carry the same
heavyweight tag as it does in other lands.
While the silver medal isn't as glamorous as the gold, members of
the 1988 U.S. Olympic water polo team -- coached by Newport Harbor
High's Bill Barnett -- were thrilled with their finish at the Seoul
"That gold-medal game (against Yugoslavia) would probably be the
highlight, or the semifinal game when we beat Russia," Boyer said.
"We were a little disappointed to lose that final game (9-7 in
overtime), but that disappointment wore off after 24 hours and we
were happy to have won the silver."
For Boyer, a U.S. national team member from 1981 through '88, it
was his swan song. He was the second-oldest player on the Olympic
team in '88 at age 30, but one of the team's most powerful two-meter
"He had the greatest legs of any player I've ever seen," Barnett
said of Boyer. "He had fantastic balance in the water."
Boyer, a 6-foot-3, 220-pounder during his heyday in the 1980s,
starred in the hole on UC Santa Barbara's 1979 NCAA championship
team, which defeated UCLA, 11-3, in the NCAA title match at Belmont
After making the U.S. national team, Boyer played in four FINA
Cups and two world championships, but missed the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. He came back the next year, however, and persevered in the
U.S. program until the Seoul Games.
Boyer, who scored a goal in the semifinals against Russia and in
the gold-medal game, remembers that time well. The gold-medal game
was played on the final day of competition in the Olympics, and,
while walking around the Olympic Village, fellow Americans were
wishing them luck.
"It's the journey, not the end result," Boyer said.
These days, Boyer continues to be a familiar face in the
Newport-Mesa landscape -- or at least poolside -- as a referee and
An attorney for the past 14 years whose office is by John Wayne
Airport, Boyer was a referee at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and has
coached fourth-through-eighth graders in the Newport Harbor junior
water polo club program for the past six years. There are about 100
kids in the program, Boyer said, and it's split evenly among boys and
Boyer, who graduated from Aviation High in 1975, and his wife,
Reenie, live in Laguna Beach. Reenie Boyer has been the head of
Newport Beach's junior lifeguard program for the past 20 years and is
consistently listed in the Daily Pilot's Top 103 Most Influential
People in the Newport-Mesa Community.
"Everybody knows her. She's a lot more famous in the area," said
Boyer, the latest honoree in the Daily Pilot Sports Hall of Fame.
Boyer, who grew up sailing and playing baseball and basketball,
docks his Cal 40 in Newport Harbor and is entertaining the idea of
competing in the Transpac. "It's all talk at this point," Boyer said.