Turkish Born Player Ali Arat Sets His Sights on National Championship


Published: October 7, 2010

Sometimes when an athlete attempts to switch sports, the results can be disastrous. Remember Jordan’s brief stint in baseball?

For others however, a change can prove to be a very successful move. Fordham’s men’s water polo team’s Ali Arat, GBA (Graduate School of Business Administration) ’12, is among the latter fortunate athletes.

Arat, a native of Turkey, started out as a swimmer. He swam for his club team in Istanbul up until the age of 13. Around this time, Arat found that he was “bored” with swimming.

He was looking for a team sport, as the allure of individual sports no longer appealed to him. Because of Arat’s prowess as a swimmer, the water polo team that practiced in the same facility where he swam had repeatedly tried to recruit him. These factors, coupled with what he described as “an argument with his swim coach,” led him to join the Water Polo Team.

He excelled at water polo and at the age of 15 was recruited to the Junior National Team Development Program. For his age group, his club team was the best in the nation.

However, Arat’s time in the junior program would be short-lived.  He performed so well, he was promoted to the Senior National Team after a mere two years.

Arat describes the call he received to join the Senior National Team as his greatest water polo memory. “When the coach called me up and said I made the team, it made me really happy,” Arat said. “In my country we take pride in our nation. It is a big deal for family, friends and the individual athlete. Being on the national team is one of the best achievements you can attain.”

During the time he was on the team, Arat attained a degree in mechanical engineering. However, he was not content with his major and pursued an academic change.

Arat desired a New York City school with a good masters program. Fordham best fit these requirements and it was a match made in heaven.

During his first season with Fordham’s men’s water polo Team, Arat’s performance was stellar, as he tied for the team lead in points (79) and was second in goals (71). He racked up numerous awards, such as CWPA Northern Division Rookie of the Year, ACWPC Honorable Mention All-American and First Team All-East.

Although he received many accolades, none of the awards really mattered to him. “Awards are good, but I’ll only be satisfied with winning the whole thing,” Arat said. “That is the only target. This isn’t swimming; we win the entire thing as a team. I don’t care whether I win 10 awards or zero awards, as long as we win.”

When asked if he believed this year’s team had the potential to win it all, Arat summed up his feelings in one word, “absolutely.” He added, “I’m a strong believer in this team.”

Despite his confidence in the team, Arat knows there are areas the team must work on. “It is really hard to build chemistry when you’re strangers,” Arat said. “Every practice, every day and every tournament we are building chemistry and working towards synergy.”

Francis Petit, associate dean of Executive M.B.A. Programs, said of Arat, “Ali is a true asset to Fordham, both on the athletic side to water polo, but also, and more importantly, to the M.B.A. community.”

When he’s not playing water polo, Arat is just a regular guy. He enjoys “movies, going out with friends, reading and watching DVDs.”

After he completes his M.B.A., Arat plans to stay in the U.S. As for his future in water polo, he plans to continue to play for the New York Athletic Club, for which he played  last summer.

While Arat’s future will have many options and goals, the fact remains only one is of the utmost importance to him right now, winning a national championship.