National pride

Laguna Beach High grad Annika Dries is a center on the USA Water Polo Women's Senior National team

July 16, 2010|By Mike Sciacca,
  • Annika Dries competes for the USA Women's National Water Polo Team.
Annika Dries competes for the USA Women's National… (Kelley L Cox )

Annika Dries is doing what she loves best.

She's going at a hectic pace, but the former Laguna Beach High athlete will tell you she wouldn't want it any other way.

Six days a week, Dries' world revolves around women's water polo, a sport she began playing with Laguna Beach Water Polo Club and continued at Laguna Beach High, where she earned all-league and All-CIF honors. Now, she's playing at Stanford University and again this summer is on the USA Water Polo Women's Senior National team.

Earlier this month, Dries, a center, scored five goals in six games, as Team USA won the FINA World League Super Final Tournament July 3 in La Jolla.

Team USA defeated Australia in a shootout in the tournament final.

"It was very exciting," the 18-year-old, who joined the National team in 2009, said of the tournament. "We faced teams that had different styles of play and I got a lot of great game experience that will only help me in the future."


A year ago, Dries wasn't even out of Laguna Beach High when she made the National team. She played in every game of the World League tournament last year and following the tournament, continued to train with the team but ultimately didn't make the World Championship team roster. She said she instead competed at the 18U Junior World Championships.

This time around, a year through her studies at Stanford, Dries says she's a more settled player.

"I think I know more about myself after a year of college and I feel more in control of my position and role on the team," she said. "It's always a challenge to have school and other priorities, but I feel my ability to focus my energy and time towards different things has improved and this has helped in the transition from the college life into national team training and competition.

"Every day, each individual on the (National) team shows up to practice ready to compete and train. In the four weeks leading up to the tournament, the competition was intense at practice and this is what makes our team successful. As a national team athlete, I have to be ready to compete and work during every practice and game."

On the national team, Dries plays center, a position also played by Kami Craig, a 2008 U.S. Olympian who Dries said is considered to be one of the "top centers in the world," and by her Stanford teammate, Melissa Seidemann who also plays defender.

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