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Bruins in Paris

Senior signoff: Katrina Drake shares her gratitude for her time as a UCLA athlete

Graduate student Katrina Drake considers her options with the ball. Drake had the fourth most goals for the UCLA women’s water polo this season, and the most among upperclassmen. (Brandon Morquecho/Assistant Photo editor)

By Katrina Drake

June 11, 2023 8:24 p.m.

When starting my water polo career 12 years ago, I never would have imagined it would provide me with the opportunity to go to the No. 1 public university and compete at the collegiate level. I feel incredibly grateful to be writing a senior signoff this year because it means I got to do something I love, with the people I love, for one more year than expected. While COVID-19 took a lot from us, if I had to find a personal silver lining it would be receiving an extra year of eligibility – allowing me to pursue an undergraduate and master’s degree from UCLA and having the opportunity to play the sport I love, with the people I love, for one last season. It is a privilege to be a Bruin, and to have had the opportunity to represent such a storied athletic department and university is not something I take for granted.

As my time at UCLA concludes, a single word comes to mind: grateful. I feel incredibly blessed to have called the beautiful campus of UCLA and the town of Westwood home for the past few years. There is no doubt that this place and the people who have been a part of my journey have shaped me into the person I am today. I will miss the walks to campus, the visits to Acosta, and of course, Spieker Aquatics Center. But, most of all I will miss the people who filled these spaces – it’s true, the people make the place. My peers in the classroom who helped me recognize my passions outside of sport, the elite athletes who make being a part of the Bruin community so special through their motivation, support and desire to become the best in their respective sport and my teammates who were by my side for every adventure, crazy practice, hard weights session or wild travel trip, all made UCLA home.

My time at UCLA and being a part of this program and athletic department has taught me countless lessons, provided me with amazing opportunities and has allowed me to create memories that will last a lifetime. It is hard to express enough thanks to Adam Wright, and the staff I have been lucky enough to work with over the past five years, for believing in me and teaching everything they know about water polo and life. As this chapter comes to a close, I am excited for the next adventure, knowing I have the tools to be successful.

Representing UCLA the past five years is something I will always hold dear to my heart. It is not often you find a place that provides, encourages and supports academic and athletic excellence. In the classroom and at the pool I have been lucky enough to be surrounded by individuals who are motivating, inspiring and striving to become the best they ultimately can be. From the UCLA professors, coaches, staff members, teammates and peers I have always felt empowered to push myself and strive for greatness. Legendary Bruin, John Wooden once said, “Success comes from knowing that you did your best, to become the best you are capable of becoming,” and becoming my best would not have been possible without all of you.

Drake played for UCLA from 2019-2023.

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