I only knew Jon Walters for a relatively short period of time. In the roughly six months that I knew him, however, he made an impact that will stick with me for the rest of my life.
Before Jon arrived at school, I had already heard a lot about him. His juggernaut Mater Dei team almost never lost and people were already calling him a future Olympian. I was certainly not expecting the type of kid I would end up meeting, because none of his accolades in the pool hold a candle to what he accomplished out of it.
The very first thing I remember about Jon was just how much he talked to and got along with most of the team almost immediately. Usually it takes a little while to really get integrated into the team, but he was just so easy to get along with. Jon was always trying to make people laugh or cheer people up.
In my life, Jon is by far the most universally loved person I have ever met. I never once heard anybody say a negative word about him. It did not matter if you were the best player on the team or the last player on the roster, Jon just wanted to have fun with everyone. That aspect is what, to me, made him the most special, his ability to love and have fun with everyone he was around. All the best times I had last semester I shared with Jon; and I feel extremely lucky to have done so. I do not think I would be wrong in saying that every single person who was lucky enough to have had even one encounter with Jon became so much better for it. Jon’s liveliness was contagious and it constantly rubbed off on those around him.
This season was not the easiest for Jon, he was in the training room constantly dealing with injuries, but we all knew how important he could be to us. Jon was able to play in our conference tournament, which we needed to win, and he was instantly an impact player for us. We played University of Pacific in the semifinals, the same team we would play in the NCAA Finals a week later, and Jon was a beast. An image that will stick with me forever from this season is of Jon scoring a goal early in the game, then looking back at the goalie and yelling while our bench was going crazy. The ref gave him a yellow card, but it set the tone for the rest of the game and we never looked back. Jon truly was a pleasure to watch play water polo. He always wanted to learn and he almost never repeated his mistakes. He was simply dominant for us, even though he was not at 100 percent this year. He looked like a fifth-year senior out there, certainly not like a true freshman playing in some of his first collegiate games.
It is hard for me to write so much about someone who was taken from us way too soon, but it is important that everyone knows what kind of person Jon was. It is cliché to say, but I know Jon would want us to show him love by celebrating his life and remembering all the great times we had with him.
Last weekend I was able to attend a paddle out for Jon in Newport Beach. There were roughly 200 people in the water and there were hundreds more on the pier. It was an extremely powerful event and it really spoke to just how many people were personally affected by Jon.
This next semester will be tough, but whenever things get hard just remember what Jon was all about. In the end, USC lost one of its finest Trojans, but even though he was here for only a short time he made life-changing impacts on countless people, including myself. Jon Walters will be loved and missed by all who met him. He will be forever in our hearts. Legends never die. Fight on for Jon Walters.
RS Sophomore, public relations
USC Water Polo