Annika Liou commits to Chapman University for water polo
As a child, senior Annika Liou was surrounded by water. After dedicating over four years to water polo, Liou committed to Chapman University to continue her water polo career. Since beginning the sport her freshman year of high school, Liou hopes to continue this fulfilling competitive sport while in college.
When Liou began her freshman year, a friend of hers convinced her to begin. She had already been a swimmer during middle school, and learned that swimming helps with water polo.
“I really enjoyed the sport,” Liou said. “My favorite part was the team bonding.”
Gradually, Liou began to realize how much she liked playing the sport. While it was at first difficult for Liou to pick up the rules, she eventually learned how to work with a team better. Over the past two years, Liou has learned how to lead the team.
“Annika’s experience and leadership always came through even when we were playing harder teams,” Dasha Maximovich, a teammate of Liou’s, said. “She always encourages the girls and explains how they can improve.”
Although her schedule changes depending on whether it’s on or off season, Liou presently has practices four to five times a week, two hours per practice, with tournaments on the weekends. To balance this time commitment with her school work, Liou focuses extensively on finishing all her homework before practices.
“When it comes to your school life and sports career, you can’t slack off on either one of them,” Liou said. “That is why it’s so important to use your time efficiently, and to focus on yourself too.”
Furthermore, Liou loves the fulfilling team environment water polo provides. During her sophomore year, Liou vividly remembers losing every single game. That summer, her school coach held extensive offseason practices. Following her junior year, the water polo team won almost every single game.
“The satisfaction from winning almost every game was really meaningful to us,” Liou said. “We were able to work hard and see the results by making a comeback during the season.”
As a largely team-based sport, Liou also incredibly appreciates the environment her team provides. Outside of practice, they often get meals together and do additional bonding activities.
“She always lifts everyone’s moods,” Maximovich said. “I am confident to say that Chapman is extremely lucky to have her on their team.”
As for the recruitment process, Liou says that she admittedly started pretty late. During her time playing in the Junior Olympics, she contacted coaches and told them where she was playing. While several coaches eventually got into contact with her, she most extensively contacted the coach at Chapman. When touring the Chapman campus, Liou was able to meet the water polo team there.
“They all seemed really cool,” Liou said. “Going to a new place for college is scary, but having a good core group of people like that is really nice.”