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December 9, 2009 > Newark water polo star signs with Azusa Pacific

Newark water polo star signs with Azusa Pacific

By Gary van den Heuvel

Newark Memorial High School senior Alyssa Hess signed an Athletic Grant-in Aid - which is essentially a scholarship -- to attend and play water polo for Azusa Pacific University, a Christian college in Azusa, near Los Angeles.

The decision to attend APU was a simple one for Hess - it's been her "dream school" since her sophomore year, when she started traveling to Mexico for Outreach Missions trips that were organized by APU.

"I soon came to find what an amazing school it is," said Hess. "When I found out they had water polo, I was ecstatic."

Hess is a two-time All-Mission Valley Athletic League (MVAL) water polo selection, and aside from being Newark Memorial's all-time leading scorer, she led the team to what coach Gordon Crosby called "the most successful season we have ever had."

The Cougars went 21-4 (their previous best season record was 16-8) and made their first trip to the North Coast Section (NCS) playoffs. Down 4-1 in their first game, Newark came back to win 5-4, with three of those goals courtesy of Hess.

Newark also won two tournaments: their own Newark Memorial Invitational (an eight-team event) and the Sierra Shootout, which hosted 24 teams.

"Alyssa is one of the best athletes I have ever had the pleasure to coach," said Crosby. "She led the charge to get many of Newark's players to be better by playing year-round water polo with the Ohlone Renegades. We knew early on that other teams were going to double-team her, so she set out helping other players get a chance to shoot the ball by leading the team in assists."

Hess is the epitome of an all-around athlete. Growing up, she played soccer, swimming, kids' triathlons, track and field, and volleyball. She started playing water polo in fifth grade.

"I started Ohlone Renegades Club because I was tired of swimming," said Hess. "I wanted to do something hands-on and team-oriented. It came out to be one of the best decisions of my life."

In high school, she has focused on water polo, wrestling and swimming, which she does "on the side" to stay in shape for water polo. Hess describes her strengths at water polo as "the ability to shoot hard from anywhere, aggressiveness and leadership."

Her personal role model is her older sister Danielle (22 years old). "I really look up to her because she is someone who has it together, loves the Lord, and loves what she does. Who could ask for more?"

In school, Hess enjoys English, art and American Sign Language. At Azusa Pacific, she plans to major in Liberal Studies.

"I'm not sure what I'll be doing after college," said Hess. "I am just going to live it out and see what God has planned for me."

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