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Home / Neighborhood / San Gabriel Valley / Pasadena Independent / Bulldog Lopez makes a splash in Water Polo

Bulldog Lopez makes a splash in Water Polo

by Pasadena Independent
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By SHEL SEGAL

Longtime baseball player Niko Lopez – who plays on the Bulldog squad in the spring – thought along with his teammates a while back that it would be fun to try out for the Pasadena High boys’ water polo team.

And for Lopez, it stuck.

“A friend of mine actually told me about it as he had been playing water polo two years prior,” Lopez said. “So, my baseball friends tried out with me. We all made it. They decided to stick to baseball and I thought I’d go with this. And I ended up loving it. I can’t imagine what it would have been like not playing water polo.”

If you ask him about what it’s been like to be in the pool the past three seasons, he’ll tell you, “I love it.

“I like the physicality of it. I like how it really gets me into shape. And I just love swimming.”

He’s also been appreciating the help he’s been getting from new varsity coach Jennie Jacobsen-Huse.

“She’s been awesome,” Lopez said of Jacobsen-Huse. “I know this is her first year, but she’s been taking on the role. She really commands the team. She’s taught me a lot about transitioning from defense to offense. I’ve really only known how to play defense. This year she’s taught about transitioning and fast breaks.”

Jacobsen-Huse said Lopez is a good kid to have on the team and at the school.

“He’s an excellent student athlete,” she said of Lopez. “He’s doing very well in school and is involved in community service and all sorts of things. He’s a starter for us in the center position on the varsity team this year. The center is where everything happens, kind of like in basketball. He’s extremely strong, so when they can get the ball into him quick enough he can step out and have a rocket shot.”

And don’t forget that Lopez is a talented pitcher. He recently pitched for a team from the San Gabriel Valley that won the U-18 World Series last summer in Washington state.

And Lopez said he thinks the baseball team will have a solid 2015 season.

“I definitely think we are contenders for (a Pacific League championship),” he said. “I definitely think we can take on (Crescenta Valley) and Arcadia, the big shots in our league. I definitely think we can be a contender.”

In addition, he said he has developed on the mound because of the tutelage he is receiving from Pasadena baseball coach Mike Parisi.

“He’s really helped me pitching wise and helped my confidence as a pitcher,” Lopez said of Parisi. “He’s really taught me how to bounce back.”

(Shel Segal can be reached at ssegal@beaconmedianews.com. Follow him via Twitter @segallanded.)

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