Tamara Towgood had no doubt she'd return to Southern California after graduating from the University of Hawaii in 2013.
"I'm a Southern California girl," said Towgood, who graduated from Edison High in 2009. "I love the sunshine."
Towgood actually came all the way back to Huntington Beach, where she played water polo both with the Chargers and for two years at Golden West College, winning the California Community College Athletic Assn. State Championship as a freshman.
Now Towgood has her own head coaching gig in her hometown. She is in her first season as the Marina girls' water polo coach, after being an assistant coach last season.
The Vikings have struggled, as they were 2-9 overall and 0-2 in the Sunset League entering this weekend's Diamond Bar tournament. But Towgood, 26, is having fun and making a difference.
She originally wasn't sure if she could take the position. She's also a dedicated club coach with Huntington Beach Water Polo Club, where her 10-and-under team was a national finalist last summer at the USA Water Polo Junior Olympics.
Towgood is making it work. Senior Rayza Zayerz and junior Madison Virak are team captains for the Vikings, who also have a promising freshman in Kaylee Stigar. Towgood's assistant coach is former Fountain Valley girls' water polo head coach Eric Perales.
"I get in with the girls every now and again and they're like, 'Oh my gosh, you can stay play,'" Towgood said. "I'm like, 'Dude, I'm old, I'm going to die now.' But it's cool. We have a good dynamic, the girls and I. As long as we're structured, they follow the rules and work hard, I'm cool."
Challenges ahead for Laguna Beach girls' water polo
The Laguna Beach High girls' water polo team has had a dearth of games lately, and that continues this weekend with the postponement of the Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions to Jan. 25-27.
The Breakers (12-0), the top-ranked team in CIF Southern Section Division 1 and 2, have played just two games since winning the Holiday Cup title on Dec. 30. Laguna Beach has two more games next week, though, and they should be challenging.
Laguna Beach plays host to No. 4 Corona del Mar on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. Then, on Saturday, the Breakers travel to play at No. 2 Mater Dei at 11 a.m.
Sophia Lucas leads the Breakers with 32 goals and 21 steals this season, while fellow senior Evan Tingler has 21 goals and a team-best 27 assists.