U.S. Olympic Water Polo Star Brenda Villa On Positive Thinking
After four trips to the Olympics, Team USA women’s water polo player Brenda Villa, 32, left London with her elusive first gold medal. Villa had been a member of three previous medal-winning squads (two silvers and a bronze), but now she has the full spectrum of colors on display, and no doubt the gold shines brightest. Born in Los Angeles, Calif., and raised in nearby Commerce, Villa took after her older brother Edgar and picked up water polo at age 8. Over the next ten years she developed into a top national water polo prospect and attended Stanford University. She red-shirted her first two years at Stanford in order to prepare for the 2000 Sydney Games, the first to feature women’s water polo, but she wasted no time making her mark when she finally competed for the Cardinal. In her first season, she was named NCAA Women’s Water Polo Player of the Year, an honor she would earn the following season en route to leading Stanford to a national championship. She graduated from Stanford in 2003 with a degree in political science. Villa is currently fluent in English, Spanish (her parents emigrated from Mexico) and Italian (she played professionally in Italy). Standing only 5’4," Villa is short for a water polo player, but she utilizes her accurate shot and quick release to compete with bigger, taller opponents. And before a competition, Villa does not focus on any perceived personal disadvantages, but solely on what she needs to do to be successful. “Before a match I like to listen to music, I’ll make a playlist and it helps me get into my zone,” Villa told Uinterview exclusively. “I go over our game plan when I have my headphones on, just visualizing the game. I think it’s really important to visualize what you’re going to do before you do it so that when you’re in the water you just rely on your instincts.”
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