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Santiago High School's Student News Site

Shark Attack

Santiago High School's Student News Site

Shark Attack

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The End of The Water Polo Girl’s Season


Congratulations to the girls’ water polo team here at Santiago for making it to the semi-finals in CIF! With the end of the girls’ season finishing on a good note, I had the opportunity to interview the team’s freshman and their excellent manager and coach, Coach Nina.

Starting with the girls, I asked:

What made you want to play water polo?

“My friends got me into it, and I enjoyed it,” Emily Lewis responded.

“I was asked to try out by my swim coach and made many friends, so I stuck with it,” Olivia Re.

“I got into water polo because Coach Maddie told me I should, and Olivia said she would do it with me,” Riley Romero said.

“My best friend played, and when I wanted to try a new sport, she convinced me to play” Mira  Gutierrez. 

“I faked a knee injury to get out of gymnastics, and my mom wanted me to do a water sport since she did swimming, so we decided on water polo.” Hayley Jane Pence, also known as HJ.

What is something that you will look forward to when playing next season?

“I look forward to seeing my teammates every day and improving as well,” Emily said.

“Playing with new freshmen and hopefully winning leagues!!” Olivia.

“I’ll look forward to playing with new freshmen and getting closer and spending more time with my teammates,” Riley said.

“I look forward to another enjoyable experience and season and spending more time with my teammates,” Mira said.


— HJ

“Winning” HJ.

What inspires you to keep playing?

“Some of my older family friends and some of our upper-level students because they set nt examples of hard work and effort and think like they enjoy themselves,” Emily.

“There’s no better feeling than playing a team sport where you contribute and uplift the awesome people around you,” said Olivia.

“I am inspired by the older girls on my team who put in drive and effort into what they do because they are all so sweet and uplifting people that I love to be around,” Riley said. 

“Playing with such a great team is awesome, and I want to do good for them. I want to get better as a personal goal,” Mira said.

“My competitiveness and to be the best” HJ.

Coach Nina is one of the three coaches here at Santiago for water polo and swimming. She was previously a student here who played water polo, and this is her first year as a coach. I interviewed her to understand her feelings about the season and what would come.

What were some highlights of this season’s wins?

“Probably beating Rosary for the first time. We beat them in a tournament, and they are in our division, so it was kind of like a significant win because since we beat them, we were made first in our division, so for CIF, that was helpful.”

Are there any athletes that had an immediate impact on the program?

“All of our girls were impactful in their ways. I can’t say, “Oh, one was more impactful than the other!” But we had a lot of incoming first-year students that were starting. We had two girls who were incoming freshmen starting, HayleyJane Pence and Emily Lewis, who were fresh from club season. They came, and they played, and they did well. They were great to our starting lineup. But you can’t say that one was more impactful for all of our girls. They all have their playing abilities and styles to contribute.”

What do you see for the future of the program?

“Honestly, we aren’t losing that many girls. We are losing two seniors who are goalies and another field player, so next year, I think, is going to be a good, strong year for our program. I think we will be able to go far, and I think we will be able to bring home a title for our school.”

What is something that motivates you to keep coaching?

“I love the game. I played for four years and a bit in college. Unfortunately, I couldn’t continue due to some injuries and other issues with the school. But I love the game, my love for the sport. The girls are great, they are fun to be around. They have good energy, making you want to return and help them improve.”

What life lessons do you try to instill in your athletes that go beyond the pool?

“Beyond the pool, I try to tell my girls that they have to push through the same thing in a game, like if you’re getting beat and you’re down like it might only be at half time, but the game is not over. Like how you might get beat down in high school, you might be having a hard time, but life isn’t over. There is still another half of life that you get to play, and you still have to push through, and you still have to go out and win the whole game of life.”

“Even though I didn’t coach my years, I think this year, just the group of the girls that we have, they are great students. They are great athletes. They are all friends together, and you know they all work together. This season is different from others, but I think there was morale and cohesion with the girls.”

Go Sharks!

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About the Contributor
Isabel Martinez
Isabel Martinez, Staff Writer
Isabel Martinez is a current Freshman at Santiago High School where her favorite subjects are Language Arts and Biology. Although an underclassman she’s hoping to take AP Language and AP Literature to foster her love of writing. Her interest in writing developed when she began reading poems in sixth grade. While never writing her own poems, Isabel does enjoy writing in her own personal journal. The journal is just about her daily life at school and at home. The majority of her free time however is spent on her dog, Winston. Even though Isabel loves writing on the side, she intends on becoming a real estate agent. You may reach her at [email protected].
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    Caitlyn WilsonMar 11, 2024 at 10:06 pm

    The interviews were done well and the format of the article was good, but was there more you could have said personally? Interviewing the coach was a good call and added much more depth to the team and her goals.

  • M

    MiaMar 11, 2024 at 1:15 pm

    Loved the article although it’s not very engaging and just full of quotes. Although I’m questioning, do you have a personal connection to water polo? Because I feel a connection to a sports season and personally agree with your article.