More than half of the women's water polo team either grew up or went to school in the Bay Area
With the Olympic Games just days away, the U.S. women's water polo team got a taste of their competition right here in the Bay Area.
The team competed against Hungary for an exhibition game at Stanford.
With six of the players on Team USA either current or past Stanford students, the players know this pool well.
When not playing for Team USA, Stanford senior Annika Dries is the center for the Stanford Cardinal.
"Just walking on the pool deck gave me chills," Dries said. "I’ve had so many practices and games the past couple of years, and to walk back with Team USA was just really fun."
Veteran player Brenda Villa graduated in 2003, and loves coming back to the place she called home for four years.
“It’s always a homecoming when I come back here," Villa said. "I’ve been fortunate enough to be on four Olympic teams and each time they’ve had a sending off of sorts so it’s great to be back here."
In all, eight of the 13-member team have Bay Area ties including Danville native Maggie Steffens.
“When we landed in San Francisco it was a little foggy, and I was like aah home," Steffens said.
At 19, Steffens is the youngest, but she has plenty of experience in water polo, watching her sister and teammate Jessica compete at the Beijing games.
While there is sure to be sibling rivalry, the sisters say they don't let it affect the team.
"We know this team is a lot more than just us," Jessica said. "we’re not taking our rivalries or disagreements into the pool.”
As a team, all the women have one thing on their mind, bringing home gold, even with very tough competition.
"I guarantee you each game at the Olympics is going to be one goal game," Heather Petri said. "These other teams are just as talented."
The women's water polo team begin competition July 30th.