Women’s Water Polo Finds a Leader in Marina Allen

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - One of the players who stepped up for the the Santa Clara University women’s water polo program this past year was sophomore Marina Allen, who finished the season with 17 goals as one of the Broncos most consistent all-around offensive threats. After graduating five seniors following the 2009 season, the Broncos needed its younger players to rise up and perform in the 2010 season. With only three seniors on the squad, SCU relied heavily on the performance of their younger players.

“Marina is one the fastest players on our team, and she is probably the quickest,” said Bronco’s Head women’s water polo Coach Keith Wilbur.  “She has a strong arm, and I would like her to shoot even more than she does.”

Allen (MA) has accumulated 37 goals in her young career, and while her scoring numbers were down from her freshman campaign, she increased her assist and earned ejection numbers to help create offense for her teammates. Coach Wilbur credits these improvements to her vision in the pool.

“She has great acceleration in the water and can get good position on both drives and counters.  Her vision on offense has also steadily improved, and she is making a lot more assists.”

The emerging leader for the women’s water polo program sits down and discusses this past season and her goals for the 2011 campaign with SantaClaraBroncos.com (SCB).

Get to know Marina Allen:
Favorite Color: Green
Favorite Food: Tri-tip
Favorite Vacation Spot: Jamaica
Favorite Animal: Tiger
Favorite Sport to Watch: Football
Favorite TV Show: Grey’s Anatomy

SCB: After having such a successful season in 2009, what was the outlook on the 2010 season after having lost six seniors to graduation?

MA: We had a new team and we knew that we were going to need to rely on our younger players to step up in order to find success. We knew we needed to work hard in the weight room and in the pool in order to make up for the losses that we had.

SCB: 2010 was a turbulent season for the Women’s Water Polo program, what was the highlight of the season in your opinion?

MA: Going down to Arizona State for the ASU Invitational was a ton of fun. It was the second time I had gone on the trip, and I feel like we played well as a team and had fun outside the pool as well. Coach Wilbur took us to a spring training baseball game as well, which was a great teambuilding experience!

SCB: Coach Wilbur describes you as one of the fastest and most explosive players on the team, what do you credit these attributes to?

MA: Our conditioning in the pool plays a huge role in my success as a student-athlete. I have been swimming since I was six years old, and over the past 14 years of swimming I have grown into the athlete I am now. Alumni Rob and Andrea Callahan also played a big part as they introduced us to a new weight routine that I feel really helped my explosiveness in the water.

SCB: While your scoring numbers decreased from 2009 to 2010, your all-around game seemed to improve. Why do you believe this was?

MA: This season, we had strong play from Meg Zimmerman and Laura Espinosa at the set position, and they made it easy to get open for the ball and spark the offense for everyone. I believe their play helped me always have the option to pass the ball to set instead of having to take more shots. Their play also opened up the rest of my teammates, which allowed me to use my vision to find the open player.

SCB: After losing seniors Jenny Knutson, Meg Zimmerman, and Rochelle Stowe, what is your team going to need to do to improve upon the 2010 season?

MA: First of all, we are going to miss Jenny, Meg, and Ro very much. They have played such an important role in the program over the past four seasons. With that said, I believe that us younger players need to step up and fill the shoes that they leave behind. Each of our seniors played a different position, and thus it is going to take a total team effort in order to improve next season.

SCB: Entering the 2011 season as Junior, are you looking forward to providing a leadership role for the younger players on the team?

MA: I feel like since I have been at Santa Clara we have had a young team, and I always look to seize any opportunity I can to provide leadership for the younger players. Having been an underclassmen these past two seasons, I know how rough adjusting to the college game can be, and I want to do everything I can to help make the transition as easy for everyone as possible. We have nine new players coming in this season and in order for us to be successful as a team we are going to need to come together very quickly and leadership is a key part of that.

SCB: What have you been doing this off-season to prepare for the upcoming school year and season in the winter?

MA: I have been playing with San Jose State’s club team this summer with a few other teammates. We qualified for the senior national tournament and I believe the experience I have gained playing against such great competition has helped me improve every aspect of my game. I have also been continuing our weight routine and hope to return to practice in the fall in good shape.

SCB: What do you feel is the most important thing the team needs to do in order to be successful in 2011?

MA: One of the biggest things we need to improve upon is our team communication. I feel like team bonding is a huge factor in the success of any team, and I feel like that is something that we can improve upon. I also believe that if we work hard in the fall on our conditioning, that we will be successful in 2011.

SCB: You have spent both seasons as a Bronco under the tutelage of Coach Wilbur. What separates him from other coaches that you have had in the past?

MA: Coach Wilbur knows a lot about the game and he always has good constructive criticism. Rather than taking an approach that includes yelling and screaming, he remains calm and always explains things in a way that helps us understand our mistakes. I feel like Coach’s style of teaching plays a big role in our team’s success.

SCB: Time for some predictions. What are some of your predictions for Santa Clara Athletics in 2010-2011?

MA: I heard that Men’s Water Polo had a good recruiting class, so I expect them to be strong this year. Women’s soccer had a strong year last year and I look forward to watching them do well again this season. As for Women’s water polo, I am excited to see what our freshman can bring in 2011!