How Scouting helped this Team USA water polo goalie in his quest for gold

Merrill Moses equates the silver medal he won at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing to earning the rank of Life in Boy Scouts.

Both are great achievements, but each is still a step away from the top.

Moses earned Eagle in the mid-90’s, and now, the 34-year-old Team USA water polo goalkeeper has his gaze squarely fixed on another top prize: Olympic gold.

At the London Olympics, Moses and Team USA are 2-0 in opening-round games after Tuesday’s 10-8 win against Romania. The Americans have three more first-round games (viewing info below) before beginning the single-elimination matches that will determine medalists.

But before Moses left for London, I talked with him by phone about his time in Scouting and how it helped prepare him for a successful water polo career.

Here are some highlights from our conversation:

BRYAN: What did you take away from your time in Scouting?

MOSES: One of the biggest things I remember from when I was in the Scout program is the beginning teachings of team bonding. The big thing I remember is you had to work as a team.

BRYAN: Those are lessons you still use today?

MOSES: Later on in life, you don’t realize it, but everything is a team aspect. In your career, in your marriage, in everything in life. It’s very rare that you’re going to be an individual.

BRYAN: And, of course, you aren’t an individual in team sports like water polo.

MOSES: Right. You cannot win a water polo game without your teammates. You’ve got to learn to work as a team and rely on each other. That’s something the Scout program puts into you at a young age. I don’t think I would’ve succeeded or excelled in sports without Scouts. Scouting groomed us to be able to excel in a team atmosphere.

BRYAN: How does the USA water polo team build camaraderie?

MOSES: The funny part is, in our team atmosphere we’ve done team-building things that are just like I did in Scouts. We’re doing obstacle courses, trust falls. It just kind of escalates into what I’m doing in one of the biggest team sports, water polo.

BRYAN: What else did you learn in Scouting?

MOSES: I remember learning to tie all the knots. I thought that was so cool, and then you go home and practice with your dad. They taught us basic survival out in the wilderness. It’s always great to have kids outside and be very active. This day and age, kids are stuck inside more. Back when I was a kid, I thrived being outside. I wasn’t in front of a TV much. I was doing stuff in sports, or doing stuff in Scouts and going out in the wilderness, which I thought was awesome.

BRYAN: Let’s talk about Beijing. Do you see a silver medal as a disappointment? 

MOSES: When you get to the gold medal game, you feel like you lost the gold medal if you don’t win. It was a devastating thing, but when you get home you realize you represented your country, and it was the first time in 20 years that the USA men’s water polo team had medaled at all. We were ranked ninth going in out of 12 teams.

BRYAN: This time, Team USA is ranked 6th. What’s your outlook for London?

MOSES: I hope they get to watch us shock the world again.

Watch Moses and the Team USA water polo team

First, consult the schedule of play (all times Eastern):

  • Aug. 2, 1:20 p.m.: Great Britain vs. USA
  • Aug. 4, 2:40 p.m.: Serbia vs. USA
  • Aug. 6, 10:30 a.m.: Hungary vs. USA
  • Aug. 8: Quarterfinals
  • Aug. 10: Semifinals
  • Aug. 12: Finals

Watch streaming live on the NBC Olympics site. Or check your local listings to see if the game is airing live on TV (most of them are).

Meet other Eagle Scout Olympians

Read my interview with Grant and Ross James, members of the Team USA eight-man rowing team.

About Bryan Wendell 3281 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.