Brenda Villa receives Player of the Decade

Andrew Perez

Being coached by Olympiad veteran Brenda Villa catches the attention of most, but now the Cerritos College water polo team can refer to her as the Female Water Polo Player of the Year as she was named by the FINA Aquatics World Magazine this past March.

Villa has been coaching alongside Sergio Macias for the past five years as his assistant coach of the water polo team starting back in 2005, and is also returning for the upcoming 2010 season.

“She’s an inspiration to our team,” Macias said. “I couldn’t be more pleased to have anybody else because she is the best female pool player in the world.”

Villa is very much familiar with medals of all sorts earning many gold, silver, and bronze throughout her Olympic and professional career.

She helped team USA to a silver medal at the Sidney Olympics in 2000, a bronze medal in the 2004 Athens Olympics, and in the 2008 China Summer Olympics the team fell short of a gold losing to the Netherlands to hand them another silver medal.

“Brenda’s one of the best water polo players in the world,” said national team Coach Guy Baker to the Los Angeles Times. “She’s our leader in the water because she makes great decisions. We want the ball in her hands.”

Villa began her days of competing in the pool in club swimming at the age of six in her hometown of Commerce, Calif., and two years later at the age of eight she began her journey into the sport of water polo.

With no girl water polo team at Bell Gardens High School, Villa had to compete alongside the boys, which was no problem for her as she racked up four 1st team All-League honors, four 1st team All-CIF honors, and was also a four time All-American, while also making the Junior Olympic team on the side.

Her awards shelf got even more crowded during her three seasons of water polo at Stanford University from 2001 through 2003.

In her 2001 freshmen season, she was named the NCAA’s Women’s Water Polo Player of the Year.

In 2002, she held a Stanford team high of 60 goals to lead her team to a NCAA Women’s Water Polo Championship victory.

Even as a college athlete Villa was recognized nationally, for in 2002 she was honored with the Peter J. Cutino award as the top female college water polo player in the United States.

Villa has spent the past three seasons playing professional water polo for the division I team Orrizonte in Italy where she helped them win the LEN Champions Cup Finals for three straight years.

But in the offseason, she can be seen by the poolside in the Cerritos College Aquatic Center helping her team reach its goal of another state championship as she once did in 2008.

“Her experience in her career of being a player in water polo really makes her a good coach because she knows what it takes to be successful in and out of the pool,” Karen Aguirre said, former player of Villa.