Meet Trinidad and Tobago’s star water polo player

Meet Trinidad and Tobago's star water polo player

Jonathan Bue

Kelcie Ferreira had 79 steals and 27 goals last season for the Matadors. Photo credit: Loren Townsley / Photo Editor

When head coach Marcelo Leonardi first saw Kelcie Ferreira play, it was in his role as an assistant coach for team USA’s women’s junior water polo national team. Standing out for the opposing side was Ferreira, a member of Trinidad and Tobago’s squad. Right away, Leonardi was impressed by Ferreira’s ability to play both sides of the pool.

The most impressive thing was she was playing defense on one of the better players on the team and was also carrying the load offensively,” Leonardi said. “I remember at the end of the tournament I had to go after her. I immediately had to contact her coaches and ask ‘Who is this player?’”

But Leonardi wasn’t the only one who noticed Ferreira’s outstanding play.

Offers poured in from various schools, but the presence of Leonardi, and the strength of CSUN’s water polo program drew Ferreira to Northridge.Fast forward two years Ferreira is preparing for her second season with the Matadors on the heels of a promising freshman campaign in which she led the team in steals (79) and scored 27 goals.

Ferreira’s talent was apparent since a young age. She made her national team at the age of 13, but water polo in Trinidad and Tobago isn’t a big sport and, according to Ferreira, the country has only one standard-sized pool to train in. Ferreira admits that her national team really ran only one play.

“Basically get the ball to one side. Get in there, shoot it and hope for the best,” Ferreira said.But what Ferreira initially lacked in tactics and technique, she more than made up for with raw physical ability.

“She’s super athletic,” said Leonardi.

According to her coach, Ferreira can play multiple positions and her speed and shooting are big assets for the team. Playing for the Matadors has only brought out Ferreira’s potential and her coach has big plans for the starting center defender, a physical position that Leonardi likens to guarding a Dwight Howard in basketball.

“In terms of her physical ability, she has the potential to be one of the premiere players in our conference,” Leonardi said.

Ferreira herself has embraced her expanding role in preparation for the next season.

“I think I understand water polo a lot more since being here,” she said.

Trinidad and Tobago’s population of about 1.3 million is even less than that of the San Fernando Valley, which is home to around 1.8 million people, according to the latest census figures.  Going from a Caribbean island to being landlocked in the valley can be a big adjustment for anyone.

Everything from the food, to school, and even the way people talk – like totally.

Homesickness and acculturation were issues for Ferreira early on. Fortunately, help came in the form of Kiernan Davis, Ferreira’s teammate in the pool and roommate outside of it.

Ferreira talks to her family back in Trinidad once a week, and they in turn keep track of her game accomplishments online. But Ferreira’s relationship with Davis and her family have become so close that Ferreira feels she has a support system here.

“When I go home, she comes home with me and it’s like having another sister around,” said Davis, who also has a biological sister named Kelsey.

Davis notes the change that Ferreira has made since first coming to Northridge and believes that the Caribbean native has made the full adjustment. Ferreira herself might be the first to tell you that.

“Especially this year I’m feeling more at home in this area. I went home for summer and I actually missed being here,” Ferreira said.