Sorry for the late reply been busy gearing up for another New Zealand winter down here! I’ll do my best to answer your questions and please don’t hesitate to contact me with any more you may have!
I started playing water polo my freshman year of high school at Saint Francis. I began playing after I saw a few of my older brother’s games and it seemed a lot more fun than swimming :). My dad played in the NFL back in the 1970s and then went on to coach the defensive line at Stanford for twenty years so I suppose athleticism pretty much ran in my family. I am the youngest of four kids and my mom got us all in to swimming at an early age but water polo seemed way more team oriented and exciting to me.
I made varsity my sophomore year of high school and decided to play for the Stanford club the summer before my junior year. After that summer I was hooked. Playing for the Stanford club was the best decision I could have ever made for my water polo career and made me the player I became. My favorite part about playing for the club was the incredible people, players and coaches I was surrounded by on a daily basis. I learned so much about not only the sport but myself and the level to which I was capable of pushing my mind and body.
I can’t believe you’re going to be a Gaucho!! UCSB is such an amazing place. I know you’ll have a great time. I tended to switch between set and defender throughout high school but once I got to UCSB I excelled much more as a defender so I went with that. Even though I had a different coaching staff all four years of college, I learned more and more through the older girls on my team and through coming back and playing with the Stanford club every summer. I don’t think I could pick one highlight playing for UCSB but if I nailed it down to three it would be: being a four year starter, bus trips with my team, and scoring a hat trick against Stanford my sophomore year :).
Playing for the Junior National Team was such an honor. To be able to represent your country is a pretty incredible feeling and still one of my most proudest moments. In saying that, it wasn’t easy. It took a lot of dedication and hard work but obviously in the end it was very much worth it. I really enjoyed going to Italy and playing in a town where all the locals would come and watch and chant “Italia! Italia!” before every game. I don’t quite remember anything significantly different that the other teams did in the pool but I do remember the Russian girls getting out on the other side of the pool because they were so afraid of their coach screaming at them (which made me feel even more lucky having Kyle as our coach haha).
After I graduated I coached the men’s and women’s De Anza Community College teams for a season while playing for a few masters teams in the Bay Area before moving to New Zealand. My plan was to do a ski season down here then go to Australia to play water polo but I fell in love with NZ too much and never left! It’s still hard for me to believe that was five years ago! I currently live on the South Island in Wanaka where I work as a Chef and since it’s Winter now, I’m spending most of my days off from work snowboarding….I know life’s tough :). I unfortunately haven’t been able to play water polo down here (mainly because the sport isn’t very well known yet) but I hope to get back in to the sport some day because I really do miss every aspect of it. I suppose my favorite aspect would have to be the teamwork involved. Every person in the pool is crucial offensively and defensively to winning or losing the game and it’s all about working as a team to be successful…and all the lifelong friends you make along the journey!
Hopefully this was enough to get you started and again don’t hesitate to contact me some more. Look forward to hearing from you.