Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Senior Season of Water Polo for KK

Last home game as a Wildcat
I have to start this blog off by saying I wish I could have seen more of KK’s games. Being a part of the real world kind of sucks (at times). Living 120 miles away does not help my cause either. What it does make me realize is how amazing my parents are. The fact that they rarely missed a game or a swim meet. How they juggled it with work I have no idea. I only hope I can be half as amazing when I am a parent.

Riverside Tourny
Well back to KK. I wish I could have seen more games this year. But looking back I am pretty proud of the number I did see. I made it to a day at the tournament in Riverside, a day at the tournament in San Diego, was present for Senior day and the semifinal game of CIF. Maybe another tournament or two.
Earlier in the season I asked KK if I could make it to one league game which game it would be. I assumed she would be choosing between the rivalry game against RHS (where Brooke & I went to school) or senior day. She decided on Senior Day as the one league game I would see. Sadly it was against a very very bad team in the league- in all honesty I do not even remember who they played.  But senior day is always fun- it is the last time you will ever play in your home pool. 
In order to be available for Senior day I took that Tuesday off work- I figured since I am going up to Redlands might as well make the most of it and boy did I. Mom also took the day off work. I would get grandpa in San Diego at 8:00 am and we would start the day. Once in Redlands mom and I signed a contract for the preferred hotel for my wedding, went to the church and turned in a bunch of paper work, meet with a photographer, looked at a place or two for a rehearsal dinner. Then after KK’s game we would meet with the wedding coordinator and event planner both of which were amazing.  We managed to plan out basically the entire reception from the dance floor location to the table wear. Very productive day.
The most important part of the whole day was being at KK’s game. It was weird to think that my little sister was a senior. Her school held senior day much like we did. I guess she filled out a questionnaire so that her coach had a place to start with talking about her. While he is talking my parents gave KK  some flowers. Her team signed a polo ball for her that is in a nice case. I was impressed what a great gift! He did a great job talking about what KK had meant to the program, some of the awards she had received, the school records, a few of his lasting memories, and then a few things from her sheet. Like the most embarrassing moment.  That is when she was trying to get everyone going during Brooke & I CIF final game- she was leading a cheer and spelled Redlands wrong. To give her some credit she was really little at that time. I don’t think she was older than 8. During the time her coach was talking about her grandpa got dragged up & then so did I. My attempt to say I was the camera woman did not work to well. So Mom, Dad, Grandpa & I all stood with KK!

SD Touny
I was honored to be a part of her senior day presentation. Oddly enough her coach was actually present when I was honored at my own senior day. The Vessey’s will no longer be playing water polo in Redlands. I feel that we have left a lasting mark on both high schools and there programs.  Well Brooke and KK probably more than me. But their names will stay up on the record board for some time. The game itself was nothing to write home about as the other team was not very good. It is one of those teams that you watch and just feel bad for. KK had a few goals some assists. She does it all!                                                                   
Ater league ends you head into the CIF Playoffs.  This is the stressful time cause it is win or go home. I was unable to make it to KK’s 1st round or 2nd round games. But the semifinal I was not going to miss. I managed to get out of work early. Get my brother; pick up my grandpa and hall butt the 120 miles through orange county traffic. I am sure I aged 10 years with my driving and freaking out about getting to the school on time. But we parked and the game had just begun. Very quickly the other team got out a head. The bleeding did not stop right away. The other team always knew ere KK was. Many times having her double teamed. I think finally in the 3rd quarter we got on the board. We managed to score a few more times.  KK played a great game defensively and offensively. It reminded me much of Brooke in her CIF finals game.  Just only so much she could do and hard to beat two defenders every play.
CIF Semi Final Game
After the game she did not seem super upset- but you could tell she realized it was over. Her high school polo days were behind her. As Sean went to give her a hug the teams other coach stopped her. From what I was told later he basically told her she was the best player in the division.  That there game plan revolved around stopping her! That she has had a remarkable high school career. Wished her the best of luck in college. If there is a way to have it end with a loss- you at least want a compliment. That coach had some class. That team would go on two days later to win the title- beating the other team by a few goals. It was never even a game!
Riverside Tourny
I might not have seen every game but I saw a good amount of games. I saw the big stuff. I am so proud of you KK. I look forward to watching the next four years. And I am willing to part with my red and black once in a while for LMU Lions apparel! Plus by then I will be even better with my camera and take hundreds of more pictures of you!
Click on these links to see all the different photo albums:

Friday, March 1, 2013

Mel's Senior Day

If you don't know already Melanie Garibaldi is like a sister. She is an honorary Vessey.  A little back story for you.

Conference 2011
My first year out of college I was working as a volunteer coach at San Diego State. The year prior when I was a senior we had recruited this amazing distance swimmer out of Australia. Since my background from swimming was in the distance events that was the group I inherited to coach. My group consisted on three girls and two that would join every once in a while. Mel and another freshman Meghan were always with me. When you see the same girls everyday for multiple hours at a time. You create a relationship. I really hit it off with these girls. They respected me and they knew I always had there back as a coach and wanted nothing more than to watch them succeed. This meant at the pool and in the classroom. I am sure Meghan loved the time I spent with her in study hall her freshman year. At this time Brooke was still competing for San Diego State and was a senior on the team. She also seemed to hit it off with Mel!
Conference Champions in 2010-2011

It seems like ancient history now but Mel's freshman year it was nearing Thanksgiving break and she had no place to spend the (weird American) holiday. So I spoke with the head coach and asked if it would be ok if she came home with Brooke and I. He of course just thought it was a great gesture. That was the beginning of the end :) Mel has spent every Thanksgiving & Christmas with the Vessey's since. She is part of the family.

Needless to say when Senior Day approached it was a big deal. I took a half day from work and headed to the Aquaplex. I was not going to miss her last meet. It was also a bitter sweet day to see the girls I recruited, coached in there first years at SDSU, be almost finished.  I could not believe how fast the time has flown by. Plus I felt that they appreciated my sacrifices and being there one last time for them! This senior day was special also because it was the highest ranked class SDSU had ever had (I was a small part of that).

All the Seniors Class of 2013
The senior meet is nothing crazy like some sports. It just consists of the girls being introduced to everyone. They talk about each girl- they include things like there bio, major, accomplishments, and career highlights. Mel's list was extremely long- All Conference, MW Finalist, Scholar Athlete, School Record Holder. I mean the list went on & on! Once they are announced they go through a tunnel of all the other girls on the team to be greeted by the coaching staff. Brooke, Sean & I were all present for the big event. 
After that the meet goes as scheduled. Sadly this was a meet over Christmas break while the other school Tulane was on a training trip. Oddly enough I interviewed at Tulane only about a year earlier for the swimming job. That would have been weird.  Since it was during a training trip it was a shortened meet- also meaning Mel would not swim her normal events of the 1000 and 500 Free.
We watched Mel swim odd events.  It was her last every meet at the Aquaplex! When the meet ended I was able to chat more with Mel. She found it just as weird that it was over! Like always she thanked us for being there and supporting her! Plus what girl does not love flowers and we gave her a few different sets of flowers!

It was a weird day. I was there for her first home meet and I was there for the last! Also strange was I coached Mel her Freshman and Sophomore year while Brooke coached her this last season. Sorry Mel you always had a Vessey coaching you!
Proud Siblings!!
I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to be part of her Aztec career. Congratulations Melanie on an amazing career! It was a true honor to coach you. That you still take advice from me even though I don't coach anymore. You are truly one of my best friends and I enjoy all the time I get to spend with you.  More importantly I view you as my sister (who is also stuck as a bridesmaid)!

The three girls I coached- thanks to them I looked like I knew what I was doing (L-R: Mel, Meghan & Kelly)

To see the press release of the last senior meet:

To watch an interview of Mel from earlier in the season: Click Here

View a whole photo album of Mel Racing on Senior Day:!/media/set/?set=a.10100595980008327.2485577.24605776&type=3