Napa Valley Water Polo is preparing for its most successful summer season to date.

With a full complement of programs ranging from Splashball for introduction to the sport for the very youngest athletes, to the competitive Junior Olympic training and travel team, NVWP offers introduction, instruction, training and player development and is staffed by coaches with extensive and varied water polo backgrounds.

The programs available are Junior Olympic Team, Advanced Group, Developing Group, Splashball, Learn to Swim Program, and Diving.

We have an exciting number of programs for this summer. Several of the sessions have already started and we are having our best pre-summer turnout to date. We expect even more athletes to join us when finals are finished, NVWP program director Sarah Saunders said.

This year we have coaching representation from most of our local high schools, as our plan is to have all of the local athletes train together to push each other to be the best that they can be. We are expecting to have our success measured this year when we travel to Orange County for the National Junior Olympics in August. We expect to finish with a better record than we did last year. Last year was a better summer that the previous summer. We just want to keep improving.

The Junior Olympic boys will be coached by Napa High boys varsity coach Kyle Ebeling and Vintage High boys varsity coach Alex Szmidt. The hope is to send both a 14-under and a 16-under team to Orange County to compete in the Junior Olympic tournament. This is Ebelings second year coaching NVWP and it will be his fourth fall coaching for Napa High boys water polo, second at the varsity helm. In addition he has taken over as diving coach for Napa, Vintage and Justin-Siena high schools. He is also Napa Valley Divings head coach. Szmidt, who will be in his second year at the Vintage helm, played at Santa Rosa Junior College and has coaching experience with the Santa Rosa Club Team.

The 16U Junior Olympic girls will be coached by the Sarah Saunders and Alexis Stone. Saunders heads into her second full season as the Vintage High girls head coach and is NVWPs head coach in addition to its program director. She is also a coach for USA Water Polos Olympic Development Program. She attended CSU Monterey Bay, where she earned her bachelors degree in kinesiology and played water polo on a scholarship. While in Monterey, she worked as head coach of CSUMBs water polo club team and as a coach for the Legacy Club Water Polo. She has coached several Junior Olympic teams for NVWP in the past five years.

Alexis Stone is currently the JV coach for Vintage. She was a goalie for University of the Pacific as well as an official for Centeral/Northern California.

The 14U Junior Olympic Team will be coached by Corinne Schafle and Ghitta Ferrara. Schafle attends UC Berkeley and is the captain of the Cal Womens club team. Ferrara attends Cal State Northridge and plays on its womens club team.

Joining the coaching staff this summer will be Melissa Loper-Shimer, who is heading into her second season as American Canyon Highs head girls coach, and Lisa McMicheal, the new Napa High girls head coach. While attending Santa Rosa JC, Loper-Shimer was an All-American swimmer and water polo player both years and also team captain. She continued on to the University of the Pacific on a Division I water polo scholarship. She has also helped coach the Tiger Aquatics Swim team and Delta JC Water Polo team when she was living in Stockton. She is now also helping coach the ACHS swim team. McMichael earned All-America honors at UC Berkeley and a degree in child development. She is currently is on the Napa Valley Swim Team coaching staff and an active participant in Napas local masters water polo club.

Splashball will be coached by Sophia DelBondio, who is finishing her junior year at Vintage High and plays with NVWP. Her achievements include being selected as a Cal-Hi All American Water Polo player, as 2012 Most Valuable Player of the Monticello Empire League in 2012, and to participate in the USA Water Polo ODP National Training Team in 2012. Splashball is designed to introduce the sport of water polo to children ages 5-9, providing basic skills and understanding of the sport in a recreational format. Although water polo is known for its toughness and endurance, Splashball harnesses all the fun and dynamic aspects of the game in a safe, fun, easy to learn aquatic experience that will motivate kids to swim and stay fit.

The Napa Aquatics Learn To Swim program will be run by long time Vintage High swim coach Liza Saunders. This program is for those of all levels and ages. There are 30-minute training sessions for small groups, as well as private lessons upon request. The returning instructors will be Bailey Clem, Rio Barnes and DelBondio.

For more information, visit[1] or contact Sarah Saunders at[2] or 225-2089.


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