Alea Weber has been swimming since she was 4 years old. She discovered water polo just four years ago when she started playing for Baldwin High School.
Now, the recent graduate will play college water polo at the University of the Redlands, an NCAA Division III powerhouse in California.
She will take The Maui News' Maui Interscholastic League Player of the Year award with her.
Baldwin High School’s Alea Weber, who took up water polo just four years ago, helped the Bears to an eighth-place finish at the state water polo tournament. She will play at the University of the Redlands next season.
The Maui News / KYLE SAKAMOTO photo
"I'm really super excited and surprised," Weber said. "Polo here was so much fun, but I'm really excited to go out and experience something a little bit bigger and something new, too."
Weber is joined on the first team by Bears teammate Cortney Smith, Lahainaluna's Courtney Galarita, Lalelei Mataafa and Haleigh Berko, Seabury Hall's Sabrina Altman and Kyle Sullivan, and Kamehameha Maui's Leimana Hassett.
Weber, Mataafa and Hassett are repeat selections to the first team and Lahainaluna's Bradley Mason is the MIL Coach of the Year.
"Alea, obviously her winning the MVP award, that speaks to her talent in water polo," Baldwin coach Chris Calvert said. "She brought many other attributes to the program in addition to her water polo skills."
Weber was introduced to water polo when she was asked to turn out as a freshman.
"I always loved swimming, but polo is just something different and I just had a natural ability for it and it was so much fun," Weber said.
Weber was a member of two Bears' MIL title teams before this season when Lahainaluna took back the crown it held for six consecutive years.
"It definitely does make things better," Weber said. "We are both striving to be the better team and it makes us want to be better because, of course, we have that friendly rivalry. We want to be competitive with them, so it is definitely something that helps both teams try to better themselves to try to come out on top."
Baldwin played two overtime matches - one that went to quadruple overtime with the Lunas and in the MIL tournament when the Bears clinched a state berth with a victory over Kamehameha Maui. Weber scored in sudden death to beat the Warriors.
"It was crazy, I was so proud of everyone," Weber said. "I was just so happy that we did it and finished it to get to the state tournament. It was such a team accomplishment, there was so much joy."
In the league tournament final, Lahainaluna beat Baldwin 11-10 with a goal in the final seconds, despite Weber scoring five goals.
"I have never played in games like that ever," Weber said. "We had double overtime, quadruple overtime, it was just insane. I have never even played an overtime game until this year when we had two or three."
The Lunas finished sixth and the Bears eighth in the Stanford Carr Development State Tournament.
With the addition of Seabury Hall this year, the MIL had six teams in girls water polo for the first time.
"The whole league has definitely gotten better, gotten more competitive," Weber said. "Especially this year, we had another team join the league, which made it so much more fun, gave us more games to play. I definitely think it is growing. Everything is getting bigger and better in our sport."
Weber surprised herself with the growth she experienced in the sport.
"I'm going to miss my team and I'm going to miss the girls," she said. "I'm going to miss everyone there following me and my friends, but I'm extremely excited to start something new."
* Robert Collias is firstname.lastname@example.org