Congratulations Brenda Villa on Induction to ISHOF Hall of fame

  Photo cred:The Exercist - Tumblr

 

Getting to know Brenda Villa

Brenda Villa is the most decorated woman in Water Polo, but to get to the top you have to work hard. Today Brenda lives in northern California with her husband Gino, and daughter Gianna. Brenda continues to share her passion for the game through coaching, and personal appearances. She also works with several non-profit foundations.
Brenda was born on April 18th, when she was five years old her parents, immigrants from northern Mexico, took her to the pool so she wouldn’t be afraid of the water like her mother. After two years on the swim team, they allowed her to follow her older brother Edgar into the sport of water polo. This was before there were girl water polo programs and Brenda practiced with and competed mostly against boys where she quickly learned how much better she was than the boys!
Once more girls started joining the Commerce Water Polo team, they played with and against boys made the Commerce girls teams a powerhouse in Junior Olympic Competition. At the 1994 National Junior Olympics, Brenda played in all three age groups, leading the Commerce girls to the 13 & under title, Bronze in 15 & under division and gold again in 17 & under division.

Playing with and against boys made the Commerce girls teams a powerhouse in Junior Olympic Competition. At the 1994 National Junior Olympics, for example, Brenda played in all three age groups, leading the Commerce girls to the 13 & under title, Bronze in 15 & under division and gold again in 17 & under division.
Brenda was excelling in the classroom her goal from at least the age of 12, was to attended Stanford University on a swimming scholarship, her top goal was to play water polo for Stanford. 

The International Olympic Committee announced that Women’s water polo would join the 2000 Olympic program. So she re-set her goal higher – it was not just to play for Stanford, but to also to win an Olympic Gold medal for the USA. She had no idea then that it would take 14 long years to do it.

 The Road to Success

In 1998, the USA women’s team was ranked 8th in the world and there would only be six teams in the inaugural Olympic tournament. There were two chances for teams to qualify for the 2000 Olympic Games. When the USA failed to qualify at the FINA World Cup in May of 1999, it came down to a last chance qualification tournament in Palermo, Sicily in April of 2000. In what was a do or die game against Hungary, it was a goal by Brenda that broke a 5 -5 tie late in the fourth quarter to earn the USA a ticket to Sydney.

 

 

In Sydney, Team USA reached the gold medal match and it came down to last-minute heroics again. Trailing by a goal in the final minute, Baker designed a play for Hall of Famer Maureen O’Toole to draw an exclusion and then to get the ball into Brenda’s hands. When Brenda scored with 26 seconds to play, it looked like the game was going to overtime, but it was not to be as Australia scored a game-winner at the buzzer.

After graduating from Stanford, Brenda played professionally in Europe and coached in the offseason as Team USA dominated the world of Women’s water polo. The USA won three World Championships, seven World League Super Finals, and numerous other tournaments. But the Olympic Games remained a disappointment, with a bronze medal in Athens and Silver again in Beijing.

And then came London!  After 17 years on the national team, Brenda, once the youngest player on the team was now the captain. Only Heather Petri, two years older, remained from Sydney.Team USA entered the 2012 Olympic Games as the favorite – and this time they didn’t disappoint. Brenda and Team USA finally got the gold with an 8 to 5 victory over Spain.


Life as she knows it

Brenda has received numerous awards and recognition over the course of her incredible career, but none mean more to her than the City of Commerce naming the pool she grew up swimming in the Brenda Villa Aquatic Center. In the City of Commerce, a mostly Latino, a community located southeast of Los Angeles. While surveys show as many as 70 % of Latino children cannot swim, that is not the case in Commerce. It has one of the finest aquatic facilities in California and over the past 30 years, it has developed one of the most prolific and sophisticated youth water polo programs in the United States. There are no financial barriers to swim in Commerce. Residents can learn to swim and participate on teams almost for free.

 

With all those accomplishments, her dedication to Water Polo shows with her work in and out the pool. she is the perfect choice for The International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) and we are delighted they selected Brenda to be inducted at this year's ceremony. The Induction Ceremony is shaping up to be a star-studded weekend with multiple events spread out over three days in beautiful Fort Lauderdale, Florida. May 18-20