Teams without a pool find success the hard way

Sophia Daurio of Culver City gets ready to score a goal during a recent Culver City girls water polo match at the Vets Pool. (Photo by George Laase)

What if you were a coach of a high school basketball team without a gym or the coach of a high school football team without a field? What would you do? You would probably quit the job or find another solution. Culver City high school water polo coaches decided to find another alternative.

The Dordoni family started a relationship with the Culver City Parks and Recreation Department over 40 years ago. Nestor Dordoni Sr. started the bond and Nestor Jr. has continued the journey. They use the only public pool in Culver City at Vets Park. The elder Nestor was the head coach for 38 years and Junior was his assistant and for the past 10 years the roles have reversed. Nestor Jr. is the head coach, and his father is one of his assistant coaches. It’s truly a family affair.

Although with their guidance the boys and girls water teams have won CIF Championships, they know the program could be so much better with their own pool. “You can’t compete consistently at a high level without a pool,” said Dordoni Jr. after a recent loss to Mira Costa at the Vets pool. “You just try your best and hope the girls learn from playing stronger teams.

“Some of the top programs play year-round and we don’t,” said Dordoni Jr. “They have a pool, and we don’t. It’s that simple. I would not say that the other girls are more talented it’s just that they have been playing since they were younger.”

Even without a pool the Lady Centaur water polo team is 15-8 this year. That’s a direct reflection of their coaches. “The girls are having a good year,” said Dordoni Jr. “We have a good mix of seniors, and they provide good leadership. It’s really been a full team effort. Even the younger girls who do not get a lot of playing time are doing well. After watching the team last year, I knew we would have a good team this year.”

Dordoni Jr. is hoping to make the CIF playoffs and if they do, he likes his chances. “We need to get healthy and work on some things in practice. We did not practice during winter break and that hurt us, but the girls are working hard.”

Some of the girls that are playing at a high level are Emily Rodriguez who along with her sister, Natalie is some of the few players that have played club water polo. Also playing well this year is Santi Nikhanji, Marilia Bessolova, Ash Poinsett and Janie Reyes.

“We have had a really great season,” said Evangelia “Abby” Garza. “This year I am having a lot of fun playing on this team. The dynamics on this team is really good and we are really close.”

Poinsett had this to say about the team after their loss to Mira Costa. “Last year was my first year and I was not sure I was going to stick with it but what really got me to come back was the people in the program. Everyone is super nice, and everyone is very supportive. It’s so much fun playing with them. Everyone on this team is growing and when we play better teams, we hold our ground.”

Now if the Culver City school district can build the water polo and swim teams a pool Culver City high school will be able to reach the elite level. They already have elite coaches. “If we had a pool, I know things would be different,” said Dordoni Jr.

The girls water polo team have two regular season games remaining on their schedule. They travel to Santa Monica on Thursday (Today) for a 3:30p.m. Bay league game and on Friday they travel to the city of Rancho Cucamonga to face Alta Loma in a 7 p.m. Tournament game.