Virginia Smith, water polo player extraordinaire, looks like she'll be following the aquatic path of her big sister.
Her 20-year-old sibling Victoria is a junior at San Jose State University, where she is playing for the varsity Spartans on a full water polo scholarship.
Like her sister, Virginia is pretty much a lock to take the NCAA route once she graduates from Garibaldi Secondary this coming June.
A Grade 12 honour roll student at Garibaldi, Virginia recently returned from the Pan American Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she captained Canada's silver-medal winning U17 girls water polo team.
The 17-year-old was one of two girls from B.C. on the Canadian team, which lost 10-6 to the U.S. in the championship game of a tournament that ran Aug. 23 to Sept. 1. "I'm happy with the way we played," Virginia said. "We've come a long way from the beginning of the summer."
The sport, a hybrid of handball and soccer but played in the water, is taking Virginia places.
Once her school year finished this past June, Virginia trained with the national team and played games on three continents, North America, Europe (Holland, in particular), and South America. To put it mildly, it was a busy summer.
"Over the summer I was training twice a day for three hours each session," Virginia said. "I had a break when I got back. If I didn't, I would get burned out."
She's come a long way, in many ways, since she took up the sport at the age of seven, joining the Haney Neptunes before going on to play for the Fraser Valley Water Polo Club.
"My parents [David and Michell] put me in it [water polo] to toughen me up and make sure I wouldn't drown," Virginia said. "When I started at seven it was mostly just for fun, but I kept with it. As I kept going, it became more important to me."
Mission accomplished. And on the journey to becoming one of the country's top U17 female players, Virginia has grown to love the sport.
"I really enjoy the physical fitness part of it," Virginia said. "It's like all the sports combined into one and it's a team sport."
A utility player, Virginia says she does "whatever my coach tells me to do."
This is Virginia's second year with the Canadian women's national youth team.
She is looking at scholarship opportunities in the United States to play in the NCAA.
Virginia has had interest from a few schools she said, including San Jose State, Princeton, Hawaii, and Long Beach.
But for the here and now, she wants to have a strong academic Grade 12 year at Garibaldi (where her sister also attended) while playing for Fraser Valley in the Canadian Women's Super 8 League.
She'll be balancing equal parts of water polo and studying during her free time from now to graduation.
"In the winter I'm going to be training five days a week with my club team," she said.
She and her Fraser Valley teammates will be training and travelling around western Canada to play games against Calgary, Regina, and the rival Pacific Storm in the Super 8's Western Conference.
The Eastern Conference consists of Eastern Canadian teams Ottawa, York, DDO, and CAMO.
The teams cross over for the championship weekend, which will be divided into two divisions: the championship conference (top two teams from each conference based on regular season results) and relegation conference (bottom two teams from each conference).
The Super 8 games will be intense, an aspect of the sport that Virginia doesn't mind.
"Most of it's underwater," she said, regarding the rough stuff many of the officials can't see. "All the punching, the scrapping... it keeps me going."
The sisters' parents are collectively the driving force, literally, with their water polo aspirations.
"They've helped out a lot," Virginia said. "They were driving us everywhere."
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