The next NCAA championship won by a Stanford team will mark the 39th straight year that the Cardinal has won at least one national championship. It is quite a remarkable achievement for any school to have a 38-year streak of titles.
Call it the Dorst connection.
Stanford's streak of titles started in 1976 when the men's water polo team, with then-senior Chris Dorst playing goalie, captured the national crown by beating UCLA, 13-12.
The streak reached 38 straight years this past spring when the Cardinal women's water polo team, which included junior goalie Emily Dorst, captured the national crown by beating UCLA, 9-5.
To make the streak perhaps even more special was the fact that senior Becca Dorst, Emily's older sister, played for the Bruins.
It's probably safe to say that no other college in America has such a streak with such a unique connection.
"It's neat," said papa Dorst, "but it's not the sort of thing that gets you out of bed each morning."
But, it is something he and his family can enjoy until the next Cardinal NCAA team champ is crowned. Then again, Emily has one more season on The Farm and the women's water polo team could repeat -- keeping the title bookends in place for another year.
After graduating from Menlo-Atherton High, Chris Dorst went on to Stanford and was named an All-American in both 1975 and '76 -- becoming the first All-American goalie in school history. The men's water polo team was loaded with talent and pretty much favored to win the school's first-ever NCAA title in '76.
"We were No. 1 all year," Chris said. "Had they (the Bruins) beaten us, it would have been an upset."
Stanford actually lost its first two matches that season before winning the next 20, topped by the national title.
"We had a great team, with some of the best players you've never heard of," Dorst said.
Stanford had four All-Americans that season, with Drew McDonald, Doug Burke and Rick Johannsen joining Dorst. Veteran coach Art Lambert was the guiding light that year before retiring.
"Our success was more Art Lambert bringing us all together," Dorst said. "Best coach I ever played for."
Dorst said Lambert always had the team prepared emotionally and physically. He helped the team overcome the knock that Stanford was a bunch of smart boys who couldn't play.
Lambert used that to motivate his team.
"There was nothing left to chance. We were prepared and relentless," Dorst said. "And we had fun. We had a real fun group of guys."
Dorst believes that Lambert, now in his 70s and living in Idaho, could still coach today.
Dorst went on to make the U.S. Olympic team that missed the Moscow Games due to the boycott, but came back four years later and helped the USA take the silver medal in Los Angeles.
Dorst eventually married Marybeth Linzmeier, who had been an eight-time All-American swimmer at Stanford, helped win one NCAA team title and also made the 1980 Olympic team.
The two later had three daughters -- Lindsay (a Cal grad), Becca (a UCLA grad) and Emily. Lindsay graduated from Sacred Heart Prep while Becca and Emily graduated from Menlo-Atherton. All three played water polo, with two of them -- Lindsay and Emily -- following in dad's goalie footsteps.
"I married specifically for DNA," joked Chris.
For those keeping track, Chris has one NCAA team title, Marybeth has one and Emily has one. Becca has one second place and three thirds while Lindsay has one runner-up medal.
Bragging rights go to Emily, as far as the sisters are concerned.
"She (Emily) has not even begun to stick it to them," Chris said with a laugh.
Despite playing behind freshman Gabby Stone this season, Emily helped the Stanford women go 25-1. She had 37 saves in 13 games.
Emily wasn't even aware of her place in the streak until after the Cardinal's NCAA title this spring.
"I think my dad told me," she said. "It is pretty special."
Emily followed her sisters into the sport after traipsing along to their matches.
"We tried out everything (sports wise)," Emily said, "but that's the one (water polo) that stuck."
Emily and Becca teamed to help M-A win a Central Coast Section title in 2010, before the sisters went their separate collegiate ways. After Lindsay headed to Cal and Becca to UCLA, it was up to Emily to keep the family tradition alive at Stanford.
"She (Emily) wasn't the starter, but she is a huge part of our team's grinder mentality," said Cardinal head coach John Tanner, who recently returned with his team from Europe where Stanford played the Netherlands and France in exhibitions.
This weekend, the Stanford men and women will be playing in the US Open of Water Polo in Southern California. The women will be playing at the Brenda Villa Aquatics Center in Commerce, named after the former Cardinal All-American and four-time Olympian.
Villa helped keep the streak of NCAA titles alive by leading the Cardinal to the NCAA crown in 2002.
After that, Emily will be back in town to watch some of water polo's National Junior Olympics (July 26-Aug. 3), which is being hosted by the Stanford Water Polo Club.
Then it will be time to start making plans for an NCAA title defense.
"I don't want to jinx the team," Emily said, "but, it would be a great way to end my senior year."
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