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Get to know...Elsie Windes

Elsie Windes (rhymes with “kinds”) is a senior co-captain of Cal’s Women’s Water Polo team. She is also a member of the USA National Water Polo team that recently won gold at World Championships. Two of her TeamUSA team mates are former Cal standouts Heather Petri and Ericka Lorenz. Alicia Rowell from Friends of Cal Aquatics recently spent some time with Elsie and asked her to reflect on her experience playing water polo at UC Berkeley.

On how she started playing water polo
My sister played in high school so I always went to her games and watched but it was my dad that actually got me started. He plays on a masters team and so I would go to their practices and play around and one day the local age group coach was there and he made me start passing with him…and I got hooked!

On the Cal team
I love our team and school spirit! We have a lot of pride for our university and our team. I also love how much fun we have- it is rare that I go a practice without laughing…or at least smiling.
When playing on other teams I really miss saying “Go Bears!” at the end of practice.

On Coach Corso
Coach Corso is a great coach because he is honest and pushes you to move outside your comfort zone as a player. I don’t know if that makes sense but he doesn’t let you settle. He is always having us work on new shots or moves so we can use something different and expand our game.

On her water polo related goals when she came to Cal
Ever since my club coach told me where the Olympics were going to be in 2008, that has been my goal. After he moved away he would always write me emails and end them with Beijing 2008. I never really thought I would get so close but it was always a dream. So I haven’t made it yet, but I am getting closer. I also wanted to bring Cal back up into the top 4 ranking. We were at the beginning of the year! Also when I came to college they were just staring to have NCAA’s for women’s water polo, so it has been a goal of mine to make it to the tournament but so far we haven’t. And of course a goal has always been to beat Stanford. We never have since I have been here…so maybe for my last home game we can pull it off!!

On winning the gold medal at World Championships
Wow…it was amazing! At first it didn’t really sink in. We were all just in the pool hugging and screaming…waving to the few fan/parents we did have. The awards ceremony was awesome. To watch our flag go up and our national anthem play made me realize that all the hard work paid off. To be able to say we are World Champions is just crazy. Our team works so hard and has such talented players, it makes me proud to be a part of something like that. It makes me thankful for all the opportunities and support I have been giving- otherwise I don’t know if I would have been up there on that podium.

On her water polo plans for the future
After I graduate in May I am going to be moving down to the Long Beach area and will start full-time training with the National team. We have the Pan American Games this July so we are going to start training hard for that. That will be our first chance to qualify for the Olympics so we want to do well.

On after-water polo plans
I don’t have any major plans for after water polo. I hope to go back to school after polo is done. I think it would be interesting to have school without sport….it would be a first for me (and maybe I could do a little better in the classroom!) Otherwise I want to travel some- I have earned a lot of frequent flyer miles with the National team but we never get to see much when we go places (besides the pool).


By Alicia Rowell

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