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2018 USA Water Polo Hall Of Fame Induction Brings Legends To Irvine


Brenda Villa, Guy Baker and Heather Petri were inducted into the USA Water Polo Hall of Fame in 2018.
Brenda Villa, Guy Baker and Heather Petri were inducted into the USA Water Polo Hall of Fame in 2018.
June 8, 2018

Irvine, CA - June 8 - Legends of the game converged in Irvine, California today for the 2018 USA Water Polo Hall of Fame induction. A capacity crowd watched as Brenda Villa, Heather Petri, Guy Baker, Chris Humbert and the late Scott Hinman were inducted into the Hall Fame. They were joined by a host of current Hall of Fame members and athletes from the USA Men's & Women's Senior National Teams. See below for more information on the inductees. Photos coming soon. 

2018 USA Water Polo Of Fame Induction Class

Brenda Villa

In the Olympic era of women's water polo, the most well-known name in the sport is Brenda Villa. The longtime captain of the USA Water Polo Women's National Team, Villa took part in four Olympic Games winning a medal every time. Just five feet, four inches tall, the diminutive Villa defied expectation becoming a dominant force on both ends of the pool. She capped her storied career with a gold medal at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. A three-time FINA World Champion, Villa bridged the gap from the pioneers of the Team USA women to the modern day group that continues on a dynastic run. A native of Commerce, California, Villa first played high school water polo with boys before girls programs were available. From there, she headed to Stanford University where she won the 2002 NCAA title and was named the Cutino Award recipient as the best player in the college game. Named FINA Player of the Decade in 2010, Villa was also named Pac-12 Player of the Century in 2016. She has stayed close to the sport as a club and high school coach while taking on governance roles within the Women's Sports Foundation and UANA in addition to a spot on the USA Water Polo Board of Directors. She co-founded the non-profit, Project 2020, an organization that gives aquatic opportunities to youths in under-served areas. 

Heather Petri

Intangibles have no place on a scoresheet but they are one piece of what turned Heather Petri into a four-time Olympic medalist. The Northern California native was thriving in her collegiate career at the University of California, Berkeley when she received an unexpected invitation to the National Team. That led to a spot on the 2000 Olympic Games roster, a silver medal and kick-started the career of one of the most decorated athletes in international water polo. A four-time Olympic medalist, Petri added three World Championships and multiple World League titles to her resume during her decade-plus run. A top-notch defender with excellent speed, Petri brought positive energy and an upbeat personality that served as the glue on several iterations of Team USA over her 12 year career. Petri was a founding member of the Miramonte High School Girl's Water Polo Team after initially competing for the boy's squad. Inducted into the Cal Athletic Hall of Fame and a Pac-12 All-Century Team selection, she was an All-American for the Cal Bears. She competed for a host of international clubs during her career with stops in Brazil, Greece and Italy winning two European Champions Cup crowns. Petri hasn't drifted far from the sport serving as a volunteer assistant coach for the Cal Bear Women's Water Polo Team. She is also active in many charitable initiatives including Swim Across America. 

Scott Hinman (posthumous) 

The late Scott Hinman had an impact on the water polo and swim community that won't soon be forgotten. A water polo player at UC Santa Barbara and a member of the Santa Barbara Masters club, Hinman embarked on a coaching career in the 1970s that would see him coach at the club, collegiate and high school level while playing a pivotal role in the early days of the USA Water Polo Women's National Team. He later arrived at Irvine High School taking on swimming and water polo, coaching the likes of Olympic gold medal winning swimmer Amanda Beard. An advocate for the growth of girl's high school water polo he helped spur the first ever CIF-Southern Section championship. A fixture at the William Woollett Aquatics Center in Irvine, CA, Hinman was a key piece of hosting a variety of major events at the facility. 

Guy Baker

Many people are responsible for the growth and success of the USA Water Polo Women's National Team. But only one led the program into the age of Olympic competition taking the program from underdog to world power. Prior to his work with Team USA, Baker helped resurrect a UCLA water polo program that had been dropped in 1991. First leading the men and then the women, winning NCAA and National titles with both before taking over the USA Women's National Team program in the late 1990s. Big challenges lay ahead and each accomplishment would be a first for the program. Baker led the team to Olympic Qualification in early 2000 and then against all odds a silver medal in the first Olympics to offer women's water polo in Sydney. The United States would sneak up on teams no longer and the accolades continued to roll-in. In 2001, Baker was also charged with building a women's national team pipeline that resulted in multiple Junior World Championship medals. In 2003, Baker and Team USA claimed the program's first ever FINA World Championship and followed it with a bronze medal at the 2004 Olympic Games. 2007 presented perhaps Baker's finest work as Team USA reached another level. The squad did not lose a game (35-0-1) on the way to winning a second FINA World Championship and qualifying for the 2008 Olympic Games with Pan American Games gold. The following year Team USA was again on the Olympic podium, claiming silver in Beijing. Baker has remained in the game in both administrative and coaching roles spearheading the launch of the USA Water Polo Olympic Development Program. He is now the Executive Director of the Lamorinda Water Polo Club. 

Chris Humbert

A dominant force at two-meters, Chris Humbert played center for Team USA at three Olympic Games (1992, 1996 and 2000) while also helping the squad to FINA World Cup gold in 1991 and 1997. A three-time Pan American Games medalist, Humbert was unstoppable in front of the goal. At 6 feet 7 inches tall, the left-hander became a mainstay on the National Team following a decorated career at the University of California, Berkeley where Humbert helped the Bears win three NCAA Championships. Twice named NCAA Player of the Year, Humbert was a vital piece of every team he played on bringing a fiery edge to his position. In addition to his success in the collegiate ranks and with Team USA, Humbert went on to have a successful career in Europe competing for clubs in Italy and Greece claiming Italian Championships, a Len Super Cup title in addition to Greek Cup and Greek Championship crowns.

Chris Humbert was not in attendance on Friday and will be honored again at a future Hall of Fame induction.

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