Coskinas is CdM's 'iron woman'

Corona del Mar High senior Marina Coskinas is the only returning starter for one of the top girls' water polo programs in the country, a program that is coming off winning its first CIF Southern Section Division 1 title.

It's something that Coskinas doesn't take lightly.

There is the responsibility of being one of four senior team captains this year. There is the responsibility of scoring goals, much more than last year, when her primary offensive focus was often just to hold position at two meters.

But, if there's one thing that Coskinas has shown, it is that she can adapt.

In that regard, the Daily Pilot Athlete of the Week often hasn't had much of a choice. Though she was born in Long Beach, Coskinas moved to Greece when she was 5 with her parents, Vageli and Kim, and her younger brother Ari.

"My dad is from there, and his family was there, so he thought it would be a good experience for us," Marina Coskinas said.

And it was. She enjoyed her life in the small coastal town of Palea Fokea. She sometimes hung out with twins Stephania and Ioanna Haralabidis, who immigrated to Newport Beach in the summer of 2012 and helped CdM win that Division 1 title before heading to USC.

"It's very different," Coskinas said of living in Greece. "There's not much diversity at all. I know, compared to the rest of America, Newport Beach doesn't have much diversity. Bit still, compared to Greece, it's very diverse. Also, the school's a lot different in Greece. There's like 14 different subjects for school. Here, it's like five classes and you're done."

Marina Coskinas still beat the Haralabidis sisters to Southern California by three years. Her family moved back in the summer of 2009, before she entered eighth grade.

Again, there wasn't much of a choice there. The economy in Greece crashed. Vageli, a doctor, had to support his family.

"It got really bad," Marina Coskinas said. "It's gotten worse. We went back this summer [to visit family]. On our usual route to get home, all the shops on the street were closed down. They had 'for sale' signs on them. It was really strange; it was like empty."

Marina adjusted well to life back in Orange County. She started playing water polo before entering high school, originally playing as a center defender. But two years ago, another tough circumstance arrived. She said one of her arteries that touched her kidneys pinched closed. Her blood pressure skyrocketed, and she started experiencing bad migraine headaches.

"It was kind of a tough time," she said. "My grades went down, because I was in the hospital a lot ... They put me on medication that slowed me down a lot. Normal times that I'd make in swim sets, I couldn't do it. I could barely make it to the wall because I was so tired. That was really frustrating."

But nowadays Marina Coskinas is thriving. She has committed to defending national champion USC, where she will reunite with the Haralabidis sisters and be a pre-med student. She said she wants to open her own medical practice in the future.

In high school water polo, Coskinas consistently draws exclusions at center. And, through Thursday, she was third on CdM with 33 goals scored.

She is a bit soft-spoken, but people take notice of Coskinas' skill and toughness.

"Sometimes she doesn't sub," first-year CdM Coach Ross Sinclair said. "I think that Battle of the Bay game, she didn't sub, and if I don't have to sub her then I won't. She's a workhorse and can play all game. She's one of the leaders on the swim sets. Yeah, she's pretty special. She's accepted that role, too, as like the 'iron woman,' which is cool. She's a machine in the weight room and she swims fast in conditioning, and she doesn't ever quit."

Coskinas has worked with CdM assistant coach Leslee Kaczmarek, who knows something about being a productive center. Kaczmarek starred in both softball and water polo at CdM, helping the girls' water polo team reach back-to-back Division 1 title games in 2008 and '09.

The play of Coskinas will be key If the Sea Kings, ranked No. 4 in Division 1, are to accomplish a similar feat this year.

"She's probably the rock of CdM," said Kaczmarek, who was a member of UCLA's women's water polo team before graduating last June. "She brings everything together. She's never flustered; she's always calm and collected. She's able to fight through anything."

Coskinas will continue pushing for CdM. And, in true team captain fashion, she credits her teammates for their growth as well. Gone are extremely experienced players like the Haralabidis sisters, Ally McCormick (swimming at BYU) and last year's Newport-Mesa Co-Player of the Year Cassidy Papa (Stanford).

Yet, CdM has remained a contender.

"A lot of the girls have really stepped up, and sort of took control of their own improvement in the sport," Coskinas said. "It really made a difference, because they cared. They realized, 'Oh my gosh, I'm on varsity and it's up to me.' It's not up to the national team Greeks, or Cassidy, who's also incredible. It was their time to step up, and they really did."

And so has Coskinas.

Leadership is not "Greek" to her at all.


Marina Coskinas

Born: April 18, 1996

Hometown: Palea Fokea, Greece

Height: 5-foot-8

Sport: Water polo

Year: Senior

Coach: Ross Sinclair

Favorite food: Gyro

Favorite movie: "The Bucket List"

Favorite athletic moment: Scoring the last goal in CdM's 6-5 win over rival Newport Harbor in last year's CIF Southern Section Division 1 title match.

Week in review: Coskinas had a goal and drew five exclusions in CdM's 10-2 league win over Irvine, helping CdM move closer to another Pacific Coast League title.

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