Monthly Awards

Athlete of the Month - April 2009 Jake Melia - Team Vegas/Henderson Water Polo

If there were a world where you could create your dream player, most coaches would immediately begin thinking of the physical attributes their "creation" would have. I, on the other hand, would begin with character. And I wouldn't have to go to some "dream world" to create this player because I have the dream player already - Jake Melia.

Jake has been playing for Team Vegas Henderson for six years as an attacker. During those six years, I have watched him develop not only into a formidable water polo player, but one of the finest young men I have ever encountered. As Jake is finishing his senior year and looking forward to college at the U.S. Air Force Academy, I can't help but think about what I will be losing - a competitive, go-to player, a team leader, a volunteer assistant coach, and an event organizer.

In addition to his high school day of senior year Advanced Placement courses with hours of homework, Jake attends water polo practices three nights a week and high school swimming five days a week (where he is also the team captain.) He also helps coach our age group players two nights per week. When not in the water, Jake is an active member of the Henderson chapter of the Civil Air Patrol program, an accomplished pianist, a volunteer at a local hospital and he has a part-time job.

The team captain for the past four years, Jake takes the leadership role to new levels. Not only does he provide a positive image for our younger players with his dedication to his sport and team, but he demonstrates responsibility, respect, and kindness with everyone he encounters. If there is a team event, Jake is the coordinator. From outings for players to promote team bonding, to our annual team awards banquet, to our sanctioned tournaments and annual Masters Festival - Jake is always in charge from set-up to take-down and everything in between. What's even more amazing than the fact that the 17 year old is running the show, is how he performs under pressure. He handles anything from power outages to missing equipment, without breaking a sweat.

Jake is an integral part of every aspect of our team. He practices with our Masters level players several times per week where his style of play and sportsmanship earn him respect from veterans in the sport. Jake seamlessly moves to helping out with the age group players - whether it's coaching from the pool deck or in the water, the kids love to have Jake around.

At our annual awards banquet Jake has managed to take home top honors every year - Most Improved Player, Sportsmanship Award, and Coaches Award. Jake is the epitome of a coaches "dream player", but more than that he is an exceptional young man. I cannot think of a more deserving player for this award.

Sandy Nitta - Head Coach - Team Vegas/Henderson

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USA Water Polo - 2124 Main Street, Suite 240 Huntington Beach, CA 92648 - 714.500.5445. - www.usawaterpolo.org
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