By Carolyn Linck, '11
Freshman water polo player Claire Eadington (CE) had a standout year for the Broncos. Recognized for her contributions in the pool, Eadington was named WWPA Newcomer of the Year, a first in Santa Clara women's water polo. Recently www.SantaClaraBroncos.com (SCU) caught up with Eadington about her transition to college water polo, her decision to come to Santa Clara and her hopes for her career as a Bronco.
SCU: Recently you were named Newcomer of the Year by the Western Water Polo Association. How do you feel about receiving this honor, a first for any Santa Clara student?
CE: I am so honored to receive this award. There are so many good freshmen in our conference, and it's really rewarding to see my hard work pay off.
SCU: You started in all 31 games this season for the Broncos. Were you surprised to see this much playing time as a freshman?
CE: Yes, definitely. I know that traditionally freshmen don't start. I worked really hard all through high school and this season, so seeing that much playing time was both surprising and exciting for me.
SCU: You led the team in assists and were second in goals scored this year. How were you able to transition to the college level of play so seamlessly? How do you feel about being able to contribute so much early on in your career?
CE: I think the transition from high school to college play was pretty smooth for me because of the strong water polo program I came from. I had a great coach, Aaron Chaney, all throughout high school. He has coached many players who have continued onto the collegiate level of play, and he definitely prepared me to contribute right away. I owe a lot of my success to him, as well as Coach Wilbur and all of my teammates here. I'm thrilled that I had the opportunity to help my team as much as could this year.
SCU: How do you feel about finishing the season third in the Western Water Polo Association's Championships?
CE: I am so proud of our team. Towards the end of the season we knew it was up in the air where we were going to be seeded for the WWPAs. It could have been anywhere from the fourth to seventh seed. To finish off our regular season strongly enough to get the third seed, and then go to WWPAs and actually finish third shows that as a team we never gave up. I am so proud of all of us for that.
SCU: Looking back, what was the highlight of the season for you?
CE: I would have to say winning in the last seconds against the University of the Pacific at the end of February was one of the most memorable moments of the season. After losing to them in our first tournament of the year, 16-4, beating them a month later showed our improvement. I think that win was kind of a turning point for us, especially because it was such an intense and exciting game. That was definitely an unforgettable moment.
SCU: Why did you choose Santa Clara University?
CE: I chose Santa Clara University for many reasons. When I came on my recruiting trip I fell in love with the team and the school. The academics and small class sizes were definitely a plus, and everything about the water polo program here felt right: the girls, Coach Wilbur, the pool. Even as a recruit I could sense that the team had great chemistry, and I knew right away that I wanted to be a part of it.
SCU: What do you hope to accomplish by the end of your Bronco water polo career?
CE: I want to help our team be consistently ranked in the top 20 nationally, to win the WWPA championship, and to go to the NCAA Tournament. I think that here at Santa Clara our team has so much potential to succeed, and I want to prove it to the entire country.
SCU: How old were you when you started playing water polo? Did you play any other sports growing up?
CE: I started swimming when I was four years old and started playing water polo the summer before my freshman year of high school. Growing up I had been a soccer player, so starting water polo was kind of random, but my older sister had gone through the water polo program at CDM and loved it. I decided to follow in her footsteps and try something new.