Aztecs honor passing of longtime equipment manager Steve Bartel


Courtesy of Todd Greenbaum

Steve Bartel working the scoreboard during an Aztec water polo match against Fresno State.

by Breven Honda, Staff Writer

When someone is asked, ‘‘Who is an Aztec for Life,’’ names like Tony Gwynn, Steve Fisher, Marshall Faulk and Donnel Pumphrey would first come to mind.

But for Steve Bartel, an event and equipment manager for San Diego State water polo and other athletic departments for over 30 years, he made an impact that will be forever remembered.

Before SDSU water polo’s match to begin the second day of the Aztec Invitational, the home team honored Bartel, who passed away last November. In memoriam, the Aztec Invitational will be renamed in his honor.

Head coach Carin Crawford, who has known Bartel since she came to the Mesa in 1999, said he has meant a lot to this program.

“We really miss Steve Bartel,” Crawford said. “He really embraced water polo as one of the sports that we felt as if we were one of his favorites.”

Bartel was with the team during the good and the bad.

“It really felt like he suffered through the losses and celebrated the wins with us,” Crawford said. “He was very encouraging when I was feeling down and low about a loss; he was always cheering me up.”

Crawford remembers how Bartel would relish each moment by keepsaking many events.

“He would do things like make sure we won the conference championship here in our pool in 2016 and made sure it was on our golden goal,” Crawford said. “He collected the ball and made sure we had the actual ball that won the game for us.”

Whether it was the Aztec Invitational or the first game on the schedule, Bartel was always in attendance supporting the team.

“He was very thoughtful and helped us in so many ways just with his actual running the events and the support and it was very nice,” Crawford said. “In our first season without him, we felt it was appropriate to honor and remember him.”

Even senior captain Hannah Carrillo remembers Bartel as someone who would show up everyday and cheer for the Scarlet and Black selflessly.

“A lot of the girls saw him every day and took him for granted for because he was helping us out all of the time,” Carrillo said. “It’s really cool that now our tournament is named after him, and he gets the recognition he deserves.”

The other senior captain, Maura Cantoni, said how much of an impact Bartel made to the water polo program.

“We didn’t realize how great he was for our team until he was gone, which is unfortunate,” Cantoni said. “He was huge part in making sure this tournament runs smoothly. He did so much for us and we’re really going to miss him. I’m really excited that we can honor him in the next tournament.”

For the remainder of the season, the water polo players will have his initials, SB, on their uniforms to remember him.

Now, that is an Aztec for Life.

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