Chris Shirley: Steady As You Go for Ladue Water Polo

Three sport letter winner for four straight years.

Rams Sports Quick Fire Quiz:

Name the Ram who has won 12 varsity letters the past 4 years?

Jehu Chesson, wrong
Elena Gresick, wrong
Chris Shirley, correcto-mundo.

Which Ladue student, age 18 doesn’t have a drivers license yet?

Jody Peterson, wrong
Etinosa Ogbevoen, wrong
Chris Shirley, you got it right again.

Chris Shirley, 18, of Olivette is an athlete for all seasons. He rides his bicycle everywhere and his pals have cars for further away places. He's in too much of a hurry to waste time like getting that license.

He swims in the fall, wrestlers in the winter and is a 2-meter defender in water polo during the spring.

What an odd combination? Wrestling and water sports. No matter, this gangly 6-foot-4 student/athlete enjoys his time on the mat and in the pool immensly.

And did we say student/athlete? He has a robust 3.5 GPA that he will take to the pre-pharmacy program at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.

“It’s kind of odd I am a sprinter in swimming because everyone knows I’m very slow and methodical.”

And being a wrestler at 6-4 is kind of odd too. Wrestlers are usually short, stocky and quite muscular. Shirley is none of the aforementioned.

Shirley makes a captivating conversationalist. His close friends know he fully measures each word that he speaks.

Science and math are his thing. He’s happiest with those classes (including AP) in the LHWHS classrooms.

On May 20th, he will stride across the stage, grab that diploma at Ladue High and move on.

He just might play club water polo at Minnesota. “It just depends if it fits my schedule,” he said.

He’s a kid who has never held a part-time job. Rather, he’s scrounged for money, enough to participate in Heinz variety of summer sports camps.

He played soccer in the Olivette Athletic Association as a kid and some basketball at the Jewish Community Center. He was in music (trumpet and baritone) in middle school, not sports.

He did find his way to an indoor soccer league in University City those middle school years.

He’s pretty close with his brother, Alex, 23, just graduated from the Missouri S&T in Rolla.

Shirley’s big performances come in water polo. He’s scored 52 goals, 33 assists for a whopping 137 points. In his middle-of-the-pool spot, he does more passing than scoring. “You know, I’ve worked my butt off in this sport. “I get my scoring chances when I catch goalkeepers looking the other way, and off guard.”

His fondest memories are playing alongside his best friends, teammates Salman Mahm (going to Mizzou) and high-scoring Forrest Donnell (headed to TCU).

“You know, records don’t mean a thing to me. All we wanted to do in sports is get ourselves to the finals.”

He does foster some favorite moments in the pool. “Last year in the quarterfinals, I scored from half court against DeSmet. I fired a skip shot, it hit the top of the bar and went in. That was an emotional moment for the team,” he recalled.

In the Lindbergh tournament this year, and with the game knotted at eight apiece, he scored over high-flying St. Louis U. High with another skip shot from the mid court.

“There were lots of people waiting to watch other games. We were decidely the underdogs and everyone was pulling for us to win.” The Rams lost that game in overtime.

Corey Miller, his polo coach says there are none better. “He’s a great kid and a really hard worker. He’s mostly a quiet kid; he’s our best defender,” said the coach. We will miss him a lot,” said the coach.


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