Early one Saturday morning, at the beginning of this past season, senior water polo player Spencer Springsteel walked along the pool deck at Serra High School. He was relaxed and calm, expecting a rather routine game. But little did he know, this day was going to be filled with the unexpected.

The game against Christopher HS started off strong for the Matadors, and they went into halftime with a lead and confidence. The team would continue their great play and go on to win the game 14-13.

But for anyone that looked at the score-sheet, this game was a whole different matter. Springsteel had scored every single one of the Matadors’ 14 goals.

“I scored 10 first half goals, so we had a pretty decent lead. But at the last second [Christopher HS] brought it back and tied it 13-13,” Springsteel said. “And at the very last play, I stole the ball and got the counter-goal and we won with two seconds left.”

After the game, Springsteel was filled with joy and disbelief. Everyone was unable to comprehend what they had just witnessed.

“I don’t even know how it happened, it was just crazy,” Springsteel said. “For the rest of that day, I was just feeling good, because I’ve just never had a game like that before.”

Springsteel takes a shot in a league game against Los Altos HS. Photo by Om Khandekar

However, Springsteel explains that things were not always as straightforward and easy going as they are now. Currently in his third and final year on the MVHS varsity team, Springsteel fits in and feels comfortable. But during the beginning of his sophomore year, it took him time to adapt to the varsity mindset.

“My first few games, I was afraid to touch the ball, because I was worried that I would mess up,” Springsteel said.

He explains that he used to look up to the seniors and viewed them as team leaders.

“When I first started, I would look at the seniors and think, ‘Oh my god, they’re really good,” Springsteel said. “We used to make plays designed to get them the ball, but now, we make plays designed to get me the ball.”

Springsteel protects the ball from an oncoming defender. Photo by Om Khandekar

Springsteel explains that the game where he scored 14 goals, along with games against Wilcox HS and Homestead HS where he scored 10 goals in each game, highlight his progress and improvement as a player.

But for Springsteel, water polo is about much more than just scoring goals and winning matches. He says that the best thing about the sport is the people that you meet and the long-lasting friendships. Both his club teammates and MVHS teammates are very close to one another, a result of their common passion for the sport.

“There was one point when I’d been playing basically non-stop for three years. [So] when I took two weeks off, I gained 15 pounds,” Springsteel said. “It was really bad, and everyone was asking me what was happening. So when I came back to practice, I started working really hard to lose it.”

Springsteel passes the ball to a teammate to avoid pressure from two defenders. Photo by Om Khandekar

More than seven years ago, Springsteel decided to try a water polo summer camp. He enjoyed it, and decided to give the sport a chance. And ever since, he has stuck with it. Over the years, he has grown from a kid who was afraid of getting the ball into the team leader and a 14-goal sensation.

“All the fun I’ve had over the years just keeps me wanting to play water polo,” Springsteel said.

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