By John Philip Wyllie
Bonita Vista High water polo jack-of-all-trades Berenice Jimenez remembers clearly how she became interested in playing water polo. It was purely a case of sibling rivalry.
“My sister (Rebecca) was playing here on the high school team and I was in the sixth grade watching from the pool deck. The ball went out of bounds and I threw it back to her, but my throw didn’t go very far. My sister made fun of me asking (sarcastically), “Is that as far as you can throw?” From that point on, I wanted to get into water polo so that I could beat her. There has always been a sibling rivalry between us. Whenever she did something, I wanted to do it better.”
Jimenez started with the local Grommets Water Polo Club and found that she had a natural affinity for the sport. After several years she advanced into the Shores Program. As a member of Shores, Jimenez went to the Junior Olympics and was part of a team that won a Gold Medal. Last year, her Shores team returned from the junior Olympics with a Silver Medal. When she is not playing water polo, you can find her swimming competitively.
Berenice’s big sister Rebecca graduated from the South Bay high school as its 2003 salutatorian two years ago and went on to study at MIT. Like her older sister, Berenice Jimenez has that same burning desire to excel both in the classroom and in the pool. She wears many hats for the defending Metro champion Barons.
“Berenice is an excellent defensive player and she is what we call a utility player (which means that) she can play all of the positions,” explained her coach, Antonio Gallardo. “Her powerful legs allow her to leg-up out of the water and she has a great shot. She is a wonderful all-around player,” he added.
“I can play just about anywhere,” Jimenez acknowledged. “I enjoy playing goalie because I can get up in the water pretty high, but primarily I play either guard or driver. I have also played set. I’m not afraid to play anywhere, but I especially like being the driver because that is where the glory lies.”
Coming off a league championship year in which they reached the semifinals of the 2004 CIF San Diego Section Tournament, the Barons expected an even better season this year. It didn’t start out that way.
“We didn’t have a single game scheduled for (what seemed like) the first 2/3 of the season and that caused quite a bit of tension, but once we started playing games we came together,” Jimenez said.
At times, the team has looked like it would fulfill its preseason promise, but at others it lapsed into inconsistency. Finishing the regular season with a 14-3 record, another Mesa League championship and a first round CIF victory over eighth ranked Scripps Ranch, this team should return to battle next season with an air of confidence. The goal will be to advance further than last weekend’s quarterfinal 16-10 loss to top seeded Poway.
Jimenez, all-league selection, Sarah Glick and fellow co-captain and Lauren Way, will form the nucleus of next year’s team along with Rhonda Adato and Ashley Chavez.
“We only have three graduating seniors and none of them are starters,” said Gallardo.