June Afshar Looks to Block to the Top of Golden Coast Conference

By: Ben Dines, '15

SANTA CLARA, Calif.- After being named an All-American as a freshman at Foothill College, June Afshar (JA) transferred to Santa Clara and brought with her not only athletic prowess, but also a wisdom in the sport.  Now a senior goalkeeper for the Broncos, Afshar has her eyes set on a conference title for the talented women's water polo squad.  Santa Clara Broncos (SCB) caught up with Afshar to discuss the upcoming season.

SCB: How did you get your start playing water polo?
JA: I was introduced to water polo my freshman year of high school and started my first year as a field player before switching to goalie. During "hell week" of my sophomore year, we played a game called "5 lives" where a player's 5-meter shots and goalie skills are tested. My coach thought I was the best goalie during that game and he told me I was going to start in goal. It was pretty random but I stuck with it ever since and I love it. Although, I do miss playing field sometimes!

SCB: What are your personal and team goals for this season? 

JA: For this season I am really looking to work hard and have fun. In terms of personal goals, it would be awesome to break the school blocks per season record or be honored with first-team conference honors. To be honest though, I am looking more towards contributing to our team's overall goal of winning our conference. We are in a brand new conference this year among very competitive teams and I would be ecstatic if we won the conference. It would be a huge step up for the program. We have so much talent spread across our team and I am really excited to see what we can do as a unit. 

SCB: The women's water polo team takes on some tough competition this season. How do you prepare for a game against a team such as Bay Area rival Pacific?

JA: I think the most important part of preparing for a big game against a rival or a top-20 team is treating it as any other game. We get so focused on the team and how good they are or how strong their winning record is that we lose focus on why we are there: to play water polo. In preparing for any game I try and play by the motto "nameless, faceless."  No matter the team we are up against, I play with everything I have and leave it all in the pool. 

SCB: As the senior stopper in goal, how do you stay and keep your team calm and collected during big moments in big matches? 

JA: In my opinion and experience, the goalie position should be a very centered and calming force for the entire team. Goalies direct the defense, and during a tight game it is their responsibility to keep the team focused, calm and committed to finishing strong. I'm a big talker when I am in the cage and that is my way of calming and focusing myself when games are intense. I think that my voice and direction help to give the team confidence and reassurance on defense. I am a very competitive person so I have definitely had moments of weakness. I try really hard to be positive and pump up my teammates in all game situations in order to remind each other why we are playing as a team and to remember that in the end, this is supposed to be fun.

SCB: How do you balance your academic aspirations with your athletic responsibilities?

JA: I thrive on structure and time restraints to accomplish tasks. Being a Division I student-athlete has been very beneficial to my academic success. There are lots of late nights in the library and Friday nights studying rather than going out which can be frustrating at times, but I would not give up water polo for any of that. My success comes from very organized and proactive on my studies. My planner is my Bible and I outline everything I have to do, both athletically and academically for every month in order to stay on top of things. Our season is from the day we get back from Winter Break until late April or early May. We have such a long season, filled with traveling and long days, you get worn down quickly. Therefore, it is essential to plan ahead to avoid cramming and added stress!