Women’s water polo captain Birch steps up, leads team to top ranking

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Alyssa Birch, master’s of kinesiology student at California Baptist University, helps lead the women’s water polo team as a utility.

Lancer of the Week is awarded to those who strive for excellence, both in their athletics and in their academics, and is a true leader and go-getter.

Birch, a native of Calgary, Alberta, has played water polo since the age of 13 and at CBU since her freshman year. During her 2012 season at CBU, Birch scored 23 goals, helped with 22 assists  and 30 steals. She was also named to the Association of Collegiate Water Polo Coaches All-Academic team.

After red-shirting during the 2013 season, Birch is back in action and has scored three goals, helped with four assists and four steals so far in the eight games she has played with the Lancers this season.

“I am not a stats person,” Birch said. “I do not even look at my stats after the game. I know when I have had a bad game or good game without looking. I know if we have done well defensively, I have done my job.”

Morgan Barrows, senior liberal studies major, is a fellow teammate and Birch’s roommate. She describes Birch as the “mama bear” of the team for being the most serious and nurturing player on the team.

“Alyssa leads the team well,” Barrows said. “She is an encourager and she leads by example. She is a hard- worker and sets her mind to what she wants to accomplish; she is also a great roommate.”

Jonathan Miller, head coach of the women’s water polo team at CBU, sees Birch as a true leader in every sense of the word.

“She provides a great example for our underclassmen, is an extremely hard worker and pushes those around her to perform their best,” Miller said. “As a student, she does a great job balancing her grad classes with the demands of the season, which can be challenging, especially when we have overlapping schedules.”

Birch, 24, said she understands that she is one of the older players on the team and sees the importance of being more mature and responsible to develop a good rapport with her teammates both in and out of the water.

“I’m older, (so my teammates) call me the ‘mama bear,’” Birch said. “I’m just more serious. I usually just like to get down to business; I don’t like to fool around.”

In the first year in the Golden Coast Conference, the women’s water polo team faces a challenging season playing top-ranked teams.

Birch and the rest of the women’s water polo team look for success at their next home game at the Lancer Aquatic Center March 11 at 5 p.m.

About Matthew Swope

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