The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Water polo goalie Stapf had stellar first season

As a water polo goalie recruit riding on a full scholarship at CSUN, Jillian Stapf, a Hudsonville, Mich. native, has not let her school or coaches down since she started playing for the team as a freshman last year.

Stapf played in every game last season and even managed to score from her position in the goal. She set a new school record with 348 saves and was awarded the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Player of the Week on April 24, 2007, becoming only the second-ever for the CSUN water polo team. Stapf was also selected as an All-MPSF Freshman Team member last year and was selected to participate in the Junior World Championships as a member of Team USA.

Prior to competing in her first season as a Matador, Stapf played in the Speedo Top 40 Festival, a competition hosted by USA Water Polo. The festival showcases players considered to be the best in the nation, as chosen by the coaches at USA Water Polo. Last week Stapf was again selected to participate in the festival, which will take place in Los Alamitos Nov. 2 – 4.

All of these honors collected by an athlete who started participating in sports as a basketball player. Stapf had been playing basketball since she was six years old, but enjoyed swimming, as well. When she started high school, she needed to find a sport to play in basketball’s off-season and she chose water polo. Stapf didn’t start out as a goalie and she didn’t really choose the position.

“It kind of picked me,” Stapf said. “I was the backup goalie at first because the current goalie was a senior and wanted to finish high school being a goalie.”

But, Stapf got her chance to play the position one day when the goalie got sick and she loved it.

“The feeling of blocking a ball is the greatest thing ever,” Stapf said.

Stapf said she chose to attend CSUN because it gave her the opportunity to “compete with some of the toughest teams in the nation.” She said it also gave her the chance to learn a lot. Another factor in her decision was the coaches because she really got along with them and felt they could teach her more, she said.

Stapf became the first goalie in Matador history to score from the goal when she scored last year against Occidental. Stapf said it was more of luck than talent that got the ball into the goal. She also said she had almost forgotten about that goal because it wasn’t the highlight of the season for her. Instead, Stapf likes team victories better than individual achievements. The best wins in a game are when the team comes in from behind and surprises the opponent, said Stapf.

Last summer, Stapf got the opportunity to play with some of the best college-age water polo players in the nation when she played for Team USA in the Junior World Championships. She trained with her team in Los Alamitos and then left for Holland to train there on July 9. The championships took place July 23 – 28 in Porto, Portugal where Team USA played 22 teams including New Zealand, Australia, and Puerto Rico. The team placed fourth after losing to China in the semi-finals.

Even though Stapf did not get to play in the Junior World Championships as much as her teammate Amber Oland from Stanford did, she still saw the experience as a great opportunity.

“I wouldn’t change it for anything,” Stapf said.

She said that international water polo “feels different” to her, even though it is the same game. Different countries have different playing styles, she explained.

There were only two hotels that all the teams were staying at during the championships, so the girls got to know one another and were able to recognize faces and names, said Stapf. She said it was a good atmosphere, with good sportsmanship.

Stapf’s family is very supportive of her, as they are all athletes themselves. Most of her siblings have gone off to other states, as she has, to play sports. She is studying Kinesiology in hopes of becoming a physical therapist or a chiropractor because she has seen members of her family get hurt and then be able to continue to play sports through physical therapy. For example, one of Staph’s brother was hurt playing football, she said.

Stapf said that without the support of her family, she never would have made it as far as she has. She also gives a lot of credit to her team members, knowing they help her to be a great goalie. Much of her success as a water polo player she attributes to her coaches at CSUN. She really enjoys playing for, and with them, and would not have chosen to be a Matador were it not for the exceptional coaches, Stapf said.

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