Three former Bishop’s School water polo players are in ninth year of playing together — with more to come

Ben Kyrillos, Kyto Fraley and Zach Fales have played water polo together since fifth grade.
Ben Kyrillos, Kyto Fraley and Zach Fales, pictured during their senior year at The Bishop’s School, have played water polo together since fifth grade.
(Provided by Ben Kyrillos)

Zach Fales, Kyto Fraley and Ben Kyrillos — now at Santa Clara University — are continuing the chemistry they developed in La Jolla.


In the fast-paced game of water polo, camaraderie and team chemistry are key. And nobody knows that more than three former players at The Bishop’s School in La Jolla who are now playing together at Santa Clara University.

Zach Fales, Kyto Fraley and Ben Kyrillos are nearing the end of their college freshman year and have been on club and school teams together since fifth grade.

They’ve created a bond that goes beyond the pool.

“One of the biggest advantages I feel all of us have is that we know how to push each other’s buttons in a productive way,” Kyrillos said. “Sometimes we nag each other or we get really competitive when guarding one another in practice, but it’s all in the spirit of getting ourselves better. We’ve learned how to bring out the best in each other.”

“The term ‘chemistry’ gets thrown around a lot in the sports world, and I truly believe its value cannot be overstated,” Kyrillos added. “All of us playing together for roughly the past decade has given us a great understanding of our strengths and weaknesses in the pool. It’s our understanding of these attributes that allows us to put the team we play for in a position to succeed.

“I would add that our friendship outside the pool only adds to the chemistry we have when we play. I don’t think there are two other people in this world I feel more comfortable and confident playing with.”

Fales said it usually takes about a year for a team to bond, “to really understand where the other players want the ball, how they like to play, how to score. For us, it was so easy because we knew exactly what we thought about the sport and how we look at it.”

Zach Fales (left) shoots for The Bishop's School in a game against La Jolla High School in 2021.
(Nicola Bugelli)

The trio started playing together in fifth grade on a club team coached by Fales’ father, James. The club was for multiple ages, but the three of them were of the same age and abilities, “so we clicked pretty quickly,” Fraley said.

When the three were accepted to The Bishop’s School for sixth grade, they all looked to join the water polo team.

“Coming into the program, I already had a relationship with [coaches] Doug [Peabody] and Ian [Davidson] because of my dad, but when we came in we knew they were going to ask a lot of us,” Fales said. “But Bishop’s is a family and we made connections with alumni [and] older players and they all stressed the family element. When we got there, it made it easier to go through the training knowing we had that family support.”

“Our friendship outside the pool only adds to the chemistry we have when we play. I don’t think there are two other people in this world I feel more comfortable and confident playing with.”

— Ben Kyrillos

After playing all three years of middle school and four years of high school together, the prospect of playing together in college was too good to pass up. All three applied to Santa Clara University with different majors but continued playing water polo.

“I think it’s second nature by now; we know each other’s strengths and skills,” Fraley said. “If you forget to do something, they are there to pick you up. It’s been really good, but it still feels crazy to play Division I [water polo] and at the same school. To have that support and good competition with each other, we trust each other in and out of the pool.

“Our skill sets play off each other. I am a good communicator and more defensive-minded, Zach is offensive-minded and Ben is in the middle.”

Kyrillos started as a goalie but moved to attacker positions and now plays on offense. Fales and Fraley also are attackers.

Santa Clara University recently moved to a new conference, and with that comes more teams to take on next season.

“We want to show what we’re all about,” Fales said. “We’re coming in to win it. We’re working on how to get there, the training we need to do and finish on top. In terms of team dynamic, there is a similar feeling as at Bishop’s. The coaches are phenomenal and we all live together, or the water polo houses are all within one mile of each other. We’re all seeing each other nonstop.”

Fraley said he “hasn’t really thought about” the trio’s future after college but acknowledged that the recent graduation of Ford Eldredge, another Bishop’s School alumnus who played water polo for Santa Clara, signaled that the end of their long partnership in the pool is coming.

“We felt that loss, like it was one less piece of the Bishop’s family to be here,” Fraley said. “But right now we’re focused on practice.”

Kyrillos said that “although I won’t be playing with Kyto and Zach my whole life … playing with these two has certainly improved my ability to work with others to create a positive and constructive environment in which we all succeed.” ◆