Film reveals Mater Dei team's character

The stereotype for athletes from a private school might sometimes be that they're privileged, or even pampered.

The Mater Dei High School boys' water polo team shatters that stereotype in the short film "What It Takes."

The movie, which runs 14 minutes, 17 seconds, is about the Mater Dei team that went through an intense four-day U.S. Navy SEAL training last June amid its quest to capture its fifth straight CIF Southern Section championship.

"What It Takes" will have its screening before "Touchdown Newport," the 60-minute documentary about the 1970 Newport Harbor High School football team.

"What It Takes" made its debut in December at the L.A. Underground Film Festival, where it won best documentary short.

The short film features Mater Dei team members from Newport Beach — Jon and James Walters, Nick Silvers, Carter Yonkers, Jeff O'Brien, Spencer Carroll, Phil Tran, Peter Seidner and Neil LeVecke — as well as Stig Terrebonne from Costa Mesa. Huntington Beach residents Eric Hernandez and Kent Inoue and Matthew Payne of Laguna Beach are also Mater Dei team members.

They, along with the rest of the Monarchs (the program's top 18 players), endured the grueling Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training, which included challenging exercise and sleep deprivation led by Navy SEALs.

Directors Rick Davitt and Mark Powell and their crew compiled 40 hours of footage and edited it down to 14 minutes after filming on Coronado Island and the San Diego Bay.

"I went down there to film the drama," Davitt said. "I thought the kids would break down. These kids just did it. They were incredible. It was fun to watch, and at times painful to watch. It was quite an honor to be there watching it all."

Leslie Seidner, a Newport Beach resident, is a producer and editor of the film. She said she made sure to keep her distance during the training because she knew it would not be ideal for a mother to be present.

But she said it was painful to watch her son, Peter, go through the training while editing the film.

"It was quite emotional for me," Leslie Seidner said. "When we watch the film still, me and Rick, our eyes still tear up. It was very inspiring and quite impressive from a group of young men."

Mater Dei coaches Chris Segesman and Nate Allard attended the training. They believed the Monarchs needed it after the 2011 season for various reasons, Leslie Seidner said. Heading into the 2012 season, Mater Dei had lost important senior leadership. The Monarchs had won four straight CIF section titles and were riding a 48-game winning streak.

"They wanted to do something to create team bonding and some humility and drive," Leslie Seidner said. "They were so dominant and they didn't want them to feel like they were unbeatable. That is dangerous because they could lose."

Mater Dei went on to win its fifth straight CIF section title, its third consecutive in Division 1, and improved its winning streak to 79 matches, as the team went 31-0.

Plans to film were created one week before the training. Initially, the film was to be made for parents and the players. But afterward, Davitt and his staff thought it could be a great film for the public, Leslie Seidner said.

The movie not only reveals the team's character, but also provides a glimpse of the remarkable and demanding Navy SEAL training, Davitt said.

'What it Takes'

Where: Regency Lido Theatre, 3459 Via Lido, Newport Beach

When: 6 p.m. Tuesday

Cost: $14

Information: (949) 253-2880 or

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