Santa Maria Sun / Sports Lead
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 14, Issue 23
I Spy: Olympians on the Central CoastMisty May-Treanor and members of the Olympic water polo team share powerful knowledge with local youth
BY KRISTINA SEWELL
We’ve seen them battle it out in the sand to become four-time Olympians with three gold medals, and we’ve seen them splash it out in the pool to become some of the best players their sport has ever known.
So what happens when the queen of beach volleyball and three masters of water polo come to the Central Coast? Hundreds of talented athletes, from near and far, are inspired to reach for the stars.
On golden sands
The sun fought to break free of the clouds at Pismo Beach on Aug. 10. The distant roar of the waves was overlaid by the sound of numerous volleyballs being slapped through the air in unison.
Misty May-Treanor’s volleyball clinic on Aug. 10 and Aug. 11 drew about 70 athletes from near and far, and plenty of eager spectators. Clad in customary spandex and “Dream in Gold” T-shirts, these young athletes had the unique opportunity to learn from the best in beach volleyball.
“This is the best-feeling sand I have ever felt,” May-Treanor, a four-time Olympic athlete, said of Pismo Beach. “You guys are lucky to live here and play on it.”
May-Treanor, with three gold medals under her belt, wanted to bring her “Dream in Gold” volleyball clinic back to the Central Coast, which also happens to be one of the only California stops on the clinic tour.
“San Luis Obispo to Santa Barbara to Arroyo Grande is a hot bed of talent,” she said. “There are lots of kids playing; it’s important for them to have this clinic.”
May-Treanor ran these indoor and outdoor volleyball clinics before the Olympics. She was driven by a passion for coaching and learning how to improve as a coach. The two-day clinic on the courts at the end of Wadsworth Avenue was filled with drills that emphasized both necessary and basic skills, something May-Treanor believes is important for players.
“All the drills that are boring are the most important,” she said. “You need basics to survive in this sport, especially when you’re tired.”
The clinic also had athletes focused on passing, strategy, ball-placement, and serving. Players enthusiastically welcomed instruction from May-Treanor and her father, ’68 Olympian Buck Treanor.
“Beach game is important for cross-training,” May-Treanor said to the attentive athletes. “You have to be able to pick a [serving] spot or a player on the court and hit it every time.”
Girls, and even a couple of boys, were introduced to a wide spectrum of the game, absorbing all they could from their idol.
“It’s an honor and huge inspiration to play with her,” Brittany Dakoske, 13, of Woodland Hills said. “I like how determined she is.”
While May-Treanor is honored the girls look up to her, she’s really trying to share her knowledge and keep the game going.
“It’s always about the little things; you won’t get accolades but you will see the benefit,” she said. “But you have to put in the work.”
May-Treanor, who will be taking her clinic to Oregon and Virginia next, enjoys interacting with the athletes at clinics and being a positive role model for young girls to emulate.
The Olympian had some valuable advice for young athletes: “Have a passion for what you do and enjoy the process,” May-Treanor said. “Use volleyball as an avenue to get where you need to go.”
For more information on the clinics, visit dreamingold.com.
Hidden pool of talent
Cassidy Baldwin stood on the pool deck at the Paul Nelson Aquatic Center on a recent Friday afternoon, almost too excited for words.
“I’m getting to play in the same pool as the top water polo players,” Baldwin said. “I can scream with excitement!”
A senior set-player for the St. Joseph Knights, Baldwin was one of 65 youth water polo players at the Azevedo Central Coast Youth Water Polo Camp Aug. 8 and 9. Players had the chance to receive instruction from Olympic water polo players Tony Azevedo, Maggie Steffens, and Andy Stevens, and premier water polo coach Ricardo Azevedo.
According to a press release from Mooncatcher Industries, the camp was organized to teach people on the Central Coast about water polo—a sport with a rich history of tradition in Santa Maria dating back to the 1950s.
“Having the top water polo athletes, along with one of the top coaches in the world, is a great honor and wonderful opportunity for our community,” said Charlie Bell, St. Joseph High School water polo and Oneway Water Polo Club coach.
On Aug. 8, players from 12 organizations up and down the Central Coast worked with the Olympians and the coaches, showing what kind of hard work they could do.
Steffens—currently a student at Stanford University and a member of the U.S. Women’s National Water Polo team—said this was her first time to Santa Maria. For Steffens, these clinics are important because they give young players exposure to the sport.
“We really want to see how many people we can help and expose to water polo,” she said.
Steffens said it’s also important for young players to set goals and continue having a passion for their game.
“We say it a lot, but dream big,” Steffens said. “It’s been great for me to see these kids and how hard they work. There is a lot of talent here.”
Friday’s portion of the camp featured more drills and instruction; the afternoon kicked off with a series of exhibition games. The athletes were split into teams with each Olympian to practice skills they learned during the camp.
“We worked on set shots a lot and they helped me with little tricks to use in different situations,” Baldwin said.
Baldwin, who already loves water polo, said the clinic has made her want to play the game all the time and has given her a new sense of motivation.
“They’ve taught me you can never dream too big—I want to have the same aspirations and go for what I want,” Baldwin said.
The visit from the Olympians also included a dinner, open to the media and public, at the Loading Dock in Old Orcutt on Aug. 8. Featuring tasty pizzas from Bello Forno, players and coach Azevedo mingled with locals and young athletes. Organizers of the event have been thrilled by the community support and hope to make it an annual event.
Steffens, who is considered one of the best female players internationally, was thankful for the time spent in the community and with the kids. She revealed that an Olympian at a water polo clinic when she was younger inspired her to pursue her Olympic dreams.
“Have fun in games and have fun doing what you need to do,” she said. “It’s a hard sport, but continue to have passion.”
Staff Writer Kristina Sewell is an Olympic writer. Contact her at email@example.com.
Local athletes receive Olympic-level inspiration
Athletes from all over California flocked to the Central Coast in early August for the opportunity to learn from U.S. Olympic Athletes.
The queen of beach volleyball, Misty May-Treanor, brought her “Dream in Gold” volleyball clinic to Pismo Beach Aug. 10 and 11. Hundreds of volleyball players ages 8 to 18 received one-on-one instruction from May-Treanor and her father, 1968 Olympian Buck Treanor.
Meanwhile, in Santa Maria, 65 youth athletes from Morro Bay to Santa Ynez came out to the Azevedo Central Coast Youth Water Polo Camp Aug. 8 and 9 for the chance of a lifetime: to work beside three U.S. Water Polo Olympians. Maggie Steffens, Andy Stevens, and Tony Azevedo, and coach Ricardo Azevedo spent time in the pool providing tips, tricks, and drills for eager players. There was an exhibition game at the Paul Nelson Aquatic Center on Aug. 9.