Over the course of the summer, students represented LGHS across the globe through participation in immersion programs, service projects, and athletic trips; the final category included a group of Los Gatos students who competed abroad in Hungary with their club water polo team.
Every year, local club West Valley Water Polo sends a boys’ team and a girls’ team to train internationally with world-class athletes and coaches. This season’s destination, Hungary, is known for its highly competitive and prestigious water polo programs, making it an ideal location for the California teams to compete and improve. One of the club’s head coaches, Gabor Sarusi, hails from Csongrad, a fairly rural town outside of Budapest. He served as the team’s tour guide for the duration of the trip, showing the athletes around his home country and giving them a deeper appreciation for the local lifestyle.
The teams began their trip in Budapest, where they started to train with a local club nearly immediately upon arrival. In Hungary’s famous capital city, the athletes rose at the crack of dawn to practice and spent the middle portion of their days touring famous buildings, churches, and other interesting spots. In the evening, they would routinely face off against UVSE, a club based on an island in the middle of the Danube.
After three days spent in Budapest, the girls team relocated to Dunaújváros, an industrial city about an hour outside of the capital. There, they trained and competed with local club DVFE, an organization hosting one of the nation’s most renowned women’s water polo programs. Many of the players in the club are members of Hungary’s junior and senior national teams, making them some of the top players in the world. This definitely posed a challenge for LGHS athletes, but a welcomed challenge at that.
“The Hungarians were a lot bigger and played with a lot more physicality than we had expected,” says LGHS junior Kinu Koide. “It was hard to adjust to at first, but eventually we found ways to work around it and put up a fight. If anything, it was a learning experience for all of us.”
Additional competition for the Californian athletes was the Slovakian junior national team, a well-trained group of young women who were also staying in Dunaújváros to train with DVFE. When asked about the level of play with this team, junior Emma Brezoczky explains that the Slovakians “weren’t quite as brutal, but were a lot faster than our team was prepared to deal with.”
The athletes who represented LGHS all the way in Hungary have returned with a new understanding of water polo and abundant unforgettable experiences. The journey was, according to Koide, “the trip of a lifetime.” Best of luck to these students as they apply their newfound skills in their home pool.