Jenny Booth

How did you get into playing water polo?
I have always been into sports, basketball, softball, soccer, swimming, and as a freshman in high school at Menlo I played volleyball and basketball.  During that year, I realized, “I’m way too short for this sport” (basketball), and a basketball teammate, Julie Gardner (polo teammate Stanford Alum) suggested that I play water polo because they needed more people on the team.

At that time polo was in the spring. So after Spring, Summer at Stanford and Fall polo I was hooked, I just fell in love.  In fact, in my senior yearbook, they said I was most likely to never
stop talking about water polo.

Looking back, what is one thing that you wish you knew in your first year of playing?
I wish I could eggbeater.  It was SUCH a struggle freshman year :). Also, you need to take care
of your shoulders.  When I was eighteen, I had to have surgery on my shoulder.  I wish back in the day I did more stabilizing exercises to prevent shoulder injury.  Ironically enough I got tuned up and could play 4 years of college polo but will likely need surgery again soon.

What is a piece of advice that a coach has given you that has stayed with you even to this  day?  Did you receive any advice that has helped you with your life/job?
Well, I’m going to answer with a piece of advice from my dad.  He always told me that once I
had made a commitment, I had to stick with it.  That advice from my dad helped me with my
work ethic, and I learned that working hard has a good payoff.  Also, Kyle really taught me the importance of teamwork, he always knew exactly how to transform groups into teams, successful ones :).   I genuinely believe athletes are desirable employees. They understand work ethic, working toward a goal, working with people of all walks of life and how to handle adversity.  I am currently working in a consulting role “coaching” leaders and I am thankful for the tools I learned from water polo.

Who was your biggest role model growing up?
Definitely my mother… She still is a great role model; she is a three time cancer survivor and a kick-ass mom! She is in re-mission and her resilience is admirable. She is also one of the most caring and wonderful people I know and I am proud to carry some of “Mama Booth’s qualities (Mama Booth is what the UC Davis Team calls her).  She never gave up and had a great outlook on things.

 Is there anything you would like to tell young girls thinking about college water polo?
There are a lot of opportunities to play water polo in college, which is what is great about our
sport.  Not everyone is the right fit for division I.  The time commitment is huge. The payoff and experience is amazing, but think about all your options. Is it important to be a benchwarmer on a DI team or a starter on DII team.  Each has their value.  Don’t just jump into anything.  You have to think about what would be best for you.  Have a constructive thought process 🙂 and whatever you decide, you can always transfer.

What is your favorite water polo memory?
As a co-captain senior year at Menlo, my team won CCS with Kyle as our coach. It was
electrifying.  In my time at Menlo as Varsity head coach, we won CCS beating SHP in overtime. SHP was coached by Jon Burke, former Stanford Club coach and friend from Davis, which was equally electrifying.  I couldn’t tell you which win was better, they were both so fun.  Lastly, coaching a night game at Avery was awesome as well :).

What skill did you have that contributed to the team greatly?
Physically? I was good at backhands from 2M, and playing the 5 spot on 6×5.  I love that….
catch the ball cross face and whip it in.  But I think my best contribution to teams as a player and a coach is my ability to motivate and create team camaraderie.  One of my teammates in college told me, “Booth when I come in on a time out or quarter, you are the first person I want to look at because you always pump me up and remind me I can do it!” That is a great feeling.

Do you have any tips on how to prepare mentally before going into a tough game?
Take some time, and do whatever you have to do to get into your zone.  I like to spend time with my headphones on listening to music, just getting pumped up.  At this point you as a player or a coach aren’t learning new things or teaching new things. Have faith that you know the strengths and weaknesses of your teammates, and you have to get out of the pool knowing that you gave it your all and that you did everything that you could have done.

How about tips on how to deal with failure?
First off, failure is a learning opportunity.  I would say, be open to failure, and channel your
failure and maybe your anger into your efforts for success.  It doesn’t help to sit around and think about the past.   For big failures in your life, find a mentor to help you through those times.

Last but not least, favorite Kyle moments?
Oh gosh, there are too many, let me think on this.  Kyle took my Menlo team on a SoCal trip.
We stopped in SB to play polo and of course hit up a taqueria in Isla Vista.  We all ordered
burritos, not knowing what we were in for size wise.  Kyle ordered a bunch of massive nachos too, which of course we ate.   Half way through burrito course we couldn’t eat anymore.  Kyle’s moment, “Come on, you can do it, 4th quarter push.”  This 4th quarter push became a team mantra and a saying we used at team dinners and games.  I call Kyle my Yoda, he is such a great mentor and an amazing support in my water polo career as both a player and coach.

Additionally… a Craig memory…. Driving back from LA summer polo. HOT so HOT with NO
AC in a 10 passenger van and bad radio.  So we stopped at a gas station and bought tapes. Not sure if you know what a cassette tape is :). But the only thing they had was old skool bad rap and funk. Now old skool is defined that this was in the 90s. 🙂 Hilarious and memorable trip.

When I mentioned that Josh Minnis was my first coach at Stanford…
Josh Minnis?? As in Josh?  About this tall?  *motions around her thigh*   You’re kidding, I
remember Josh as the little kid eating fries on the pool deck all the time.  During winter polo
when we were Peninsula United, PU! Craig and Teddy made us do a TON of conditioning.  Of
them being these things called Hungarian Lung-Busters, and you would have to sprint butterfly across the pool, get out, do pushups, come back underwater with no breaths, and get out and do more pushups.  It was horrible, but whenever we were done, we would be gasping on the wall, we would call Josh over and open our mouths, and he would drop fries in, he was kind of like a mother bird to us.

Number in HS #11

Number in College #7

Love quotes!!!