Late in the afternoon of Saturday, Feb. 29, I received a flurry of excited text messages from Imperial Beach residents about the Mar Vista High School girls water polo team winning the CIF Southern California Regional Division III Championships. The week before, the girls had won the San Diego CIF Division II Water Polo Championship, and so their state championship was even more remarkable. Before the start of classes on the morning of Monday, March 2, I joined the girls, Coach Chad Cavanaugh, legendary Imperial Beach swim coach Sue Czerweic, parents (Dr. Matt Dickson of South Bay Urgent Care), and grandparents (including South Bay Union School District Trustee Cheryl Quinones) in the office of Mar Vista High School Principal Bettina Batista to congratulate this remarkable group of young women.
Beaming with pride, Coach Chad said that, “Not only are these girls excellent athletes, they are excellent students as well, with many taking multiple AP classes.” Coach Sue congratulated the girls and said, “Many of them have been swimming together for a long time and transitioned to water polo, which is a tough game.” Indeed water polo is considered the “toughest Olympic sport” and water polo Olympians are considered to be among our fittest athletes. These scholar athletes are outstanding role models for Imperial Beach are to be commended for their tremendous work ethic, never giving up, and rising to the challenge when things got tough. What is also clear is that they are a tight and high achieving team.
The Lady Mariner Water Polo team is also the first team from Mar Vista High School in Imperial Beach history to win a state championship (it is only in the past few years that CIF instituted a series of regional or state championships in California). They will be honored at the March 18 City Council meeting and at a rally at Mar Vista High School. The City of Imperial Beach will also establish a perpetual trophy that will reside at City Hall for Mar Vista High School athletic teams and individual athletes that win state or regional CIF championships. Our 2020 Lady Mariner 2020 Water Polo will be the first team to be inscribed on the trophy.
The tremendous victory of our aquatic athletes only underscores the need for a new pool at Mar Vista High School. As a beach and Navy community, aquatics and learning to be water safe is fundamentally important and vital for every child in Imperial Beach. As a young student I learned to become a good swimmer at what was then a pretty new pool at Mar Vista High and received free swimming lessons in the fourth grade through the South Bay Union School District (every fourth grader in the district received free swimming lessons). Strong swimming skills are what allowed me and my fellow council colleague Bobby Patton to become Imperial Beach Ocean Lifeguards, a job that helped us pay our way through college. This is why revitalizing our defunct Parks and Recreation Department is so important, as well as raising revenues, so that we can provide our children, families, seniors, and every resident of our little beach town with access to recreational programs and services as well as public safety that every other community in Southern California takes for granted.
So thanks to our awesome Lady Mariner water polo champions for reminding us that it takes hard and smart work to achieve the impossible. Or as President Theodore Roosevelt once said, “ Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty.” And we will have to work extra hard to develop the kind recreational programs, services and facilities that provide a high quality of life for all. Congrats girls! You are definitely IB Strong!