Amy Gardner

• High school/college & grad years • Favorite memory of the club
I have a lot of great memories of my time in the pool. Most are positive, although some weren’t so great at the time, but are funny to think about now (like when my dad yelled from the stands to tell Kyle that I had three ejections in the middle of a JO quarter final game – I know Dad! In that same game, Kyle kept throwing extra people in so we could get a 4M (wasn’t 5 yet) called on us and sub, but our goalie, Taryn, kept blocking them….). Two of my favorite memories are below:

1. 14U Junior Olympics when I was probably 11 or 12. We made it to the bronze medal game and lost (I believe we were the first Stanford team to make it to a semi-final game). We were all so disappointed, but it was the first time I felt a true bonding with a team. I was one of the youngest on the team and didn’t start, but I still felt responsible. I came home and wrote all the starters a letter telling them I deserved as much blame as them since I’m the one they practice against day in and day out. I wrote the names of the teams we lost to on a piece of paper and taped them to the wall by my bed, staring at them for a full year as motivation. That was the turning point for me.

2. Last practice before going to JO’s, everyone is practicing 4Ms. Kyle and Craig were our coaches (best duo ever!) and through the repetition of 4M after 4M, they kept changing how they’d blow the whistle or signal the call. They kept trying to out do each other. I don’t know how to describe it now, but I have a feeling my teammates will remember and laugh to themselves.

• Do you still play water polo?
Nope. I miss being in the pool and with my teammates, but unless you have the time and desire to really play regularly, it’s hard to play casually. Plus I like to keep my nails long these days 😉

• What did you major in at college?
I doubled in Economics and Psychology.

• Did you play water polo in college? ( I know you did at Cal) What was that like?
I played at Cal for my first two and half years, and I’m so glad I did. I made life long friends and life long memories.The bond you make with your teammates is unlike any other. Plus I just love the sport. I still do! However, I think it’s important to understand how much time and energy it takes. Playing at the collegiate level is more than just going to practice. You also have team meetings, weight training, and it’s important to take the time to see your trainer every day and take care of your body. When you’re adding that to school, most of your time is already accounted for. After I stopped playing, I enjoyed being able to experience life as a “regular” student as well – using my free time to work in a psych lab.

• What team was your rival when you played for Stanford?
SoCal and Shores. Locally it was Marin, particularly as the club was just getting started.

• Where do you live now? • Any life milestones you’d like to share?
I live in San Francisco. No milestones to share. About to be 30 and just enjoying life!

• Do you keep in touch with club teammates?
Yes! Facebook allows you to stay in touch with everyone, but of course it’s not the same as seeing people. I’m lucky to count a couple of my former teammates as some of my best friends still. In some cases, life draws us in different directions, but the great thing about the girls I played with is that we’ll always have a special bond – making it easy to pick back up when we’re lucky enough to see each other.

• Do you remember any advice from a club coach? ( or any funny stories or memories)
If you’re on time, you’re late. But I’ve already seen that answer in a few of the other alums’ reports.

My best (or worst) club memory is from 16 and under (I think) practice one summer after we returned from a trip. I can’t remember what had happened, but we must have played very poorly, because we spent the whole practice doing sprints. If you’ve seen the movie Miracle, you know what I’m talking about. We’d hit the wall, and Kyle would blow the whistle for us to go again. He said nothing. For the full practice. It’s one of those moments that feels like torture, but because you’re doing it with your teammates, you’ll always be proud you made it through. That’s the beauty of team sports. Things that would be a negative experience to most people, turn into a positive one. [Side note, I’ve spoken to Kyle about this practice since then, and he admits to the Miracle connection.]

I’ll also always remember when Kyle and Craig ordered pizza in the middle of practice and “hid it” in the shed. Taking turns to go in and eat, while we practiced. Not cool guys.

 [editor’s note: this is an incredible memory!]

• What hobbies do you enjoy?
I’m not sure if it counts as a hobby, but I spend most of my free time working with GLIDE. I’m the Vice-Chair of the Legacy Committee (young professionals committee), and we work hard to engage and educate our generation about the great work that GLIDE is doing in our community. I also love to play card games.

• Will you be attending the reunion on June 26-27? (So that I can meet you in person)
I will be there on the 27th, but I will be late as I have a GLIDE event I need to be at earlier in the day.

Not sure where to put this, but I’d like to give a shout out to Kyle and Craig. I don’t know if they’ll ever understand what they did for all of us. I’ve had a lot of coaches through the years, and I’ve spent years coaching as well. No one does it better than they do. They taught us more than rules and strategy, but also the intangibles, the fundamentals, and how to have fun while working harder than anyone. The perfect balance. And they were the perfect team. I’m still grateful for their guidance and support 20 years after I first jumped in the pool for them.