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Santa Maria Sun / Athlete of the Week

The following article was posted on January 24th, 2013, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 13, Issue 46 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 13, Issue 46

Athlete of the Week: Sophie Stanfield

BY KRISTINA SEWELL

For junior Sophie Stanfield, everything about water polo comes easy to her—except for egg beating.

A varsity polo player for Santa Ynez High School, Stanfield was recently named Athlete of the Week for the Athletic Roundtable held every month at Giavanni’s Pizza in Orcutt. Head water polo coach Jenele Martin has coached Stanfield since her freshman year when she was pulled up to varsity for CIF playoffs.


PHOTO COURTESY JENELE MARTIN

“Sophie is a very consistent player who rises to any level of competition,” Martin said.

Averaging more than two points a game, Stanfield is an effective and versatile offensive player with a very strong arm, Martin explained. Although Stanfield plays like a veteran water polo player, she’s only in her third season.

“I had been playing soccer since I was 6,” Stanfield said. “I decided I wanted to try something new; I had to choose between soccer and water polo.”

Stanfield, who said she’s always loved the water, admits she struggled at first—especially with egg beating, a rapid leg movement used to build endurance. But she said that everything started to click together last year.

Although Stanfield and her teammates rotate positions, her primary role is “set” player, meaning she’s responsible for distracting the defense and gaining open shots.

“It’s nice to get out of the goal box and do more,” Stanfield said, referring to her soccer days as a goalie.

Coming into this season, Stanfield said she wanted to learn to pass better under pressure, and, of course, improve her egg beating. Stanfield is glad she chose water polo over soccer.

“It feels more like a team sport than other sports,” she said. “It takes a major team effort to win.”

In playing the fast-paced game with four seven-minute quarters of constant swimming, Stanfield said the biggest challenge is staying calm and not losing her temper, particularly when other girls attack her under water.

“My mindset is to keep calm,” she said. “When I play, I don’t think about anything else; I just play in the moment.”

Stanfield said despite having a very young team this year, the girls are working very well together and have won all their league games this season. With only three more games and a tournament to go, Stanfield said things look good for league finals—but they still need to beat Cabrillo, their toughest opponent.

“We’ve been training for this game the whole season,” she said. “We need to not waste time and keep up with them.”

Stanfield isn’t sure whether she wants to play water polo in college; if she does she’d like to play club.

For now, her tan lines, easygoing demeanor, and strong arm are a consistent force on the team—consistency Martin looks forward to having around for a bit longer.

“I’m happy I can count on both Sophie’s play and overall demeanor for another year,” the coach said.