International Swimming Hall of Fame Inductee Brenda Villa Joins TeachAids
Since her five-year-old start in her community swim team in East Los Angeles, Brenda Villa has dominated the water. A couple of years later, she convinced her parents to allow her to start playing water polo, just as her brother had. At that young age, she competed against many boy’s teams and soon found that she could not only keep up with them, but beat them. She continued this until high school, where she played not against, but for the men’s team, and was voted 1st team All-League, 1st Team All CIF, and an All American High School Athlete each of her four years.
On the US National team from 1996 to 2012, Villa helped lead the US teams to three world championship Golds and four Olympic medals, ending her long career with a gold. She also played for Stanford, where she helped the Cardinal to their first NCAA title in 2002 and was named NCAA Women’s Water Polo Player of the Year. Since retiring from the national team, Villa has been inducted into the Stanford Hall of Fame, USA Water Polo Hall of Fame, and the International Swimming Hall of Fame, and she remains one of the most decorated women in the history of water polo.
Having to play on the men’s team during high school, Villa has always been aware that women’s sports haven’t always had the attention they deserved. She tells the NCAA, “I know that there were women before me who played for my club team who didn’t get an opportunity to play in college and didn’t get to do a lot of the things that I’ve been able to do. I say all the time I was born at a perfect time; thank you, Mom, for having me in 1980. I was given all these opportunities and I know others didn’t get them.” Indeed, Villa has been a pioneer in bringing women into competitive water polo, and has advocated for its growth on an international level.
Villa is the true embodiment of strength and resolve in the face of adversity, and her dedication to her sport continues to be an inspiration to youth water polo players nationwide. TeachAids is very grateful to have her helping to refine the education to best serve the water polo community.