Aug 8, 2013 7:33 PM by Andrew Masuda

Locals score golden opportunity to learn from three USA Olympians

Thanks to a Facebook message from a St. Joseph High parent, dozens of high school water polo players are learning from three USA Olympians in Santa Maria. A parent reached out to four-time USA Olympian Tony Azevedo and it resulted in the first-ever Central Coast Azevedo Youth Water Polo Camp.

Nearly seventy kids from as far away as San Diego attended the first of days worth of instruction on Thursday. Not only will they learn from Azevedo, the captain of the 2012 USA Olympic Team, they'll also learn from US Olympic goalie Andy Stevens, and London Olympic Gold Medalist Maggie Steffens, considered by many as the top female water polo player in the world.

Azevedo hopes each athlete learns at least five things from the camp. "That seems like such a small number but it really makes a difference if each kid gets some kind of motivation for the future of how he can get better to go to a college or how he can do certain drills better. And those little five things can separate a player from a normal player to a great player," said Azevedo.

Local organizers and coaches hope a few hours in the pool for two straight days with three Olympians will help participants make waves years down the road.

"That's what we're striving for is to get more of our youth kids up to that level so by the time they get to high school and beyond, they're hopefully somewhere near that level," said Charlie Bell, the coaching director for One Way Water Polo out of Santa Maria.

Instruction continues on Friday morning with the camp ending with an exhibition game at 3pm on Friday. The scrimmage is open to the public. The camp is being held at the Paul Nelson Aquatic Center in Santa Maria.



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