Find a scientist to sample the mass muscle of a local physical
specimen who is only 15 years old.
If there’s a scientist available, then he or she can look no
further than at a strapping lad making large waves inside the La
Canada High pool.
La Canada boys’ water polo player Jordan Thompson, who is 6 feet 5
and a robust 230 pounds. Those dimensions were unheard of 15 or 20
years ago for a high school sophomore, so scientists are undoubtedly
gathering data to determine why teenagers like Thompson are colossal.
Thompson produced some hulk-like statistics this season, including
a team-high 75 goals that helped him share the Rio Hondo League’s
Most Valuable Player award with senior teammate Tom Dodson.
“I see a connection between science and water polo,” said
Thompson, who was selected as the 2003 News-Press All-Area Player of
the Year by the writers and editors of the News-Press and Burbank
Leader. “You have to have a huge jump in skill in areas like speed
“When you have the ball, it’s like it being a part of your hands.”
The Spartans (20-8) put their trust in Thompson’s hands to help
them win the league championship and advance to the semifinals of CIF
Southern Section Division III playoffs for the fifth time in the past
seven seasons. Surrounded by an all-star cast of players that
included Dodson, Scott Burns, Kevin Coyne, Craig McNeese, Matt
Blatchley and Devon Borisoff, Thompson enjoyed a breakout season that
also saw him collect All-CIF first-team honors.
He played with consistency and a purpose, something not all
sophomores are equip to handle when competing for a high-profile
program. Thompson never blinked, but some defenders did when assigned
to guard him.
For example, take La Canada’s 17-7 first-round victory against
Whittier on Nov. 13 at Pasadena City College. Thompson scored a
highlight-reel goal that served as the contest’s exclamation point.
In backward motion, Thompson spun full circle to score.
“Once you’ve played for some time, you have to improvise,”
Thompson, a hole/set. “It’s the only time [this season] that I tried
“The defender has his hips down and tries to clasp on to you, so
you can carry them and shoot.”
Dodson, the team’s hole/guard, who registered 49 goals and 42
steals this season, looked on in amazement after Thompson scored the
“I still don’t know how he did that,” Dodson said. “To do
something like that in front of a defender just stood out to me.
“With those long arms and reach, he can manhandle a defense. He’s
“With practice, he’ll have the combination of talent and strength
and he’ll find a happy medium.”
Thompson’s showmanship never took a beating when he played on the
school’s junior varsity program in 2002. He gained valuable
experience performing in more than 50 summer league matches, which
helped him prepare for the varsity squad.
About seven or eight matches into this season, La Canada Coach
Larry Naeve inserted Thompson into the starting lineup. Naeve, who
has guided La Canada to three CIF championships since 1979, acted on
a hunch, moving Dodson to hole/guard and Thompson to hole/set.
“I didn’t have any expectations coming into the season,” Thompson
said. “There’s so much talent with Tom, who is an amazing athlete on
“It took me some time to make the connection that I would be
starting, and I had a glowing smile.”
Thompson occasionally drew the ire of Naeve, a perfectionist who
has drawn the respect of fellow water polo coaches around Southern
California. Thompson wasn’t about to question the methods that have
traditionally made the Spartans explosive.
“He yelled at me for my own good,” Thompson said. “It could have
happened when I took a stupid shot or made a passing error.
“But he’s always given me another chance, and I have to prove to
him [and assistant coach George Akopyan] that it’s worth giving me
another chance and earn the respect of my teammates.”
It’s all in the muscle for Thompson, and scientists are ready to
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
JORDAN THOMPSON * LA CANADA SOPHOMORE * HOLE/SET
* Named Rio Hondo League co-MVP with teammate Tom Dodson.
* Selected to first team All-CIF Southern Section Division III.
* Led Spartans with 75 goals.
* First-year varsity player helped La Canada to a 20-8 record, the
league championship and a berth in the Division III semifinals for
the second consecutive year.