The Olympics are just about a month away, and a week before Opening Ceremonies, one local water polo team hopes to be competing in an Olympics of their own, the USA Water Polo Junior Olympics.
"It's, like, goals for everybody. It's like the biggest tournament of the year," said Jordan Baker, a Scorpions player from Palm Desert High School.
The team, comprised of some of the best high school players from around the desert, is competing in qualifiers this weekend in Orange County for the chance to advance. In previous years, many of these boys, ages 16 and under, would have to travel out of the desert to join a team. This year, the Scorpions, based at the Palm Desert Aquatic Center, fielded enough interest to form a team to compete.
"We really meshed together and, yeah, it's kind of like a dream team," said Carter Yoon, a Scorpions player, also from Palm Desert High School.
The club is coached by the Stein-Valovic families, who have extensive backgrounds in the sport. Michelle Stein Valovic, also Palm Desert High School's head coach, played at the University of Southern California and was a member of the USA Women's National Team. Pavol Valovic, also Xavier Prep’s head coach, was a star player at USC and played on the Slovakian National team. Elise Stein, also a coach at Palm Desert, played at USC. The club administrator is their mother Margo Stein.
"They would be so excited, but we would be so excited too. They're really chomping at the bit. They really want this," said Margo Stein.
"I'm really confident. I think that we'll do really well," Baker said.
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