Before Being an Olympian, Maggie Steffens Dominated High School Water PoloReported by Patch on Wednesday, 8 August 2012 (on August 8, 2012)
Patch: Danville, CA
Maggie Steffens, along with sister Jessica and the rest of the United States women's water polo team, will play for the gold medal against Spain on Thursday at noon.
Steffens has been spectacular in London. She scored the game-winner in the semifinals against Australia and is leading the entire competition in goals with 16.
It was only a year and half ago, Patch featured Steffens as our 2010 Female Fall Athlete of the Year. She was dominate in the pool at the high school level, but she also made her mark on the Monte Vista high school program by making her teammates better.
Here's the story we did on Steffens back on Jan. 10, 2011:
*Danville Female Athlete of the Fall: Maggie Steffens Is a Once-in-a-Generation Talent*
*By Jordan Conn*
By the time Maggie Steffens entered the pool with her Monte Vista High water polo teammates this season, she’d already suited up for the U.S. national team, traveling the globe to compete against the best in the world and proving herself as one of the top young talents in the sport.
So the high school season meant a time to relax, right?
Steffens approached her senior year with the Mustangs as an opportunity to cement her legacy at the school, striving to uphold the tradition Monte Vista has built.
“The pressure was definitely still on,” Steffens said of her season with the Mustangs. “We came off winning last year and having a great season, but we lost a lot of girls. We knew we had to keep the Monte Vista tradition going. That was the pressure with this team — teaching younger girls how to work together and gain experience.”
Steffens did just that, leading the Mustangs to a 23-0 record and the North Coast Section Division I championship. Before leading the Mustangs, Steffens spent the summer playing at the sport’s highest level, emerging as the youngest player on the U.S. women’s senior national team.
“I was a little concerned coming into the season,” Monte Vista coach Scott Getty said. “After training with the national team, I didn’t know if she’d be able to come back to the high-school level and mesh with her teammates.”
But Steffens relished the experience of completing her high-school career. With nothing left to prove at that level, she focused on teaching her younger teammates and serving as leader on her team.
“Her whole focus was on making everyone better and enjoying her senior year,” Getty said. “In practice, she spent her time working with the freshmen and sophomores, just trying to teach.”
Steffens grew immeasurably during her time with the national team, she said. And many of her biggest lessons were learned outside of the pool.
“Just learning how to be on your own as a 17-year-old was a big deal,” she said. “Being responsible for yourself, focused and motivated, it was a big challenge for me.”
Steffens comes from a family of water-polo players, which has always served as her support network.
“With the national team I learned that your teammates are your family,” she said. “You live for each other. You’re traveling around the world, playing against the best players in the world together. Every day, you have to put everything into it.”
For Steffens, the greatest moment of her young water-polo career came this summer in La Jolla when the United States played Australia in the FINA World League Super Final. With the game in a shootout, Steffens was called on as the fifth and deciding shot-taker for the Americans. She buried the shot, giving the United States the win.
“It was just a moment of shock,” she said. “The best moment was when the four other girls in the pool swam to me, smiling. It was the first time we’d won a big tournament and it felt like I was a big part of the team.”
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