Serge Dedina

On Saturday, Feb. 29, the Mar Vista Lady Mariners Water Polo team defeated top-seeded Van Nuys Birmingham 14-9 to win the Division III Southern California regional state water polo championship. It was a historic and hard won title for the first-ever state-level champions from Imperial Beach. Of his team’s victory, Mariner coach Chad Kavanaugh told the Star News, “Our win was a true testament to teamwork. My girls worked really well together. They were not selfish, they encouraged each other. They never quit. We won two triple-overtime games in this championship season and my girls never hung their heads; they always believed that we could win. I am very proud of this team.”

There was nothing easy about the Lady Mariner victory. Water polo is a tough sport requiring hours and hours of swimming, conditioning and training. The girls worked hard and played hard. They did not cut corners. They earned their title the hard way and are the pride of Imperial Beach. They showed us that hard work does pay off.

I visited with Coach Kavanaugh, players, and more than a few parents at Mar Vista High on the morning of Monday, March 2. The girls were exhausted, happy and looking forward to the rest of the semester. I asked how we could help Imperial Beach celebrate their historic victory. Plans included a special ceremony to give them all keys to the city as well as honor them with a proclamation. A victory parade was in the works as well as a perpetual trophy at City Hall, and recognition banners at the entrance to the City on Highway 75. Then the pandemic hit and the lockdown happened. Things were delayed.

So I was elated that on Wednesday evening we were able to honor our state champions virtually at the City Council meeting, (they will have their keys to the city delivered to them). A “safe” parade is being planned. The trophy is now at City Hall. Banners have been ordered. Congratulations, girls, on inspiring all of us in Imperial Beach with your commitment to excellence. You showed us that Imperial Beach and Mar Vista High School may be small, but we are mighty.

Getting back to normal is going to be a challenge for some time. But the more that we keep our physical distance in public and wear a mask, the sooner we will be able to beat the virus and get back to normal. Currently the number of people in San Diego County contracting the disease is declining. Governor Newsom just took San Diego County off of the watch list, but we still have to be careful. We have to keep our guard up. The mistake last time we opened was allowing the mad rush back to bars, restaurants and parties. Cases exploded and thousands of people died. This time we have to be smarter. The virus doesn’t allow us to cut corners. It is clear nationally that in the states where they have allowed large gatherings and school openings (especially at universities) that large outbreaks happen quickly. Our new normal is challenging but we can overcome this.

We owe it to our Lady Mariner State Champions and all of our children to do better, work harder, not cut corners, and put our “team” and our country first. That will allow us to celebrate more champions and have our kids back in real classrooms and back in action on our sports fields in 2021.

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