Most of the times Kristina Terzyan walked past the aquatics venue on the Glendale High campus three years ago, she could hear whistles blowing and a crowd cheering. It piqued her interest.
Terzyan entered the pool deck, watched a sport she never knew existed and became enamored with water polo almost immediately.
"I never heard of it and I remember being confused following it," Terzyan said. "After watching it a couple of times, I figured I might give it a try."
As it turned out, Terzyan said she made the right decision and there have been no regrets. Terzyan became a water polo player when she was a sophomore after playing basketball during her freshman season. She gave up basketball to focus on water polo and swimming, which a friend suggested she initially try.
She's now a senior hole/set for Glendale, which will face La Sierra Academy in a CIF Southern Section Division V first-round match at 4:30 p.m. today at Arlington High in Riverside.
The 5-foot-11 Terzyan said she was initially nervous learning the basic drills concerning water polo, but soaked up the finer points of the game that would help her along the way toward becoming a complete player. Persistency paid off and she caught up on the essential skills. With each practice session, Terzyan's passing and shooting became better and her confidence grew.
"I practiced as much as possible and I learned that it takes every muscle in your body to play water polo," said Terzyan, who has scored 46 goals and drawn 34 ejections this season for Glendale (16-9). "They were going to initially have me play goalkeeper, then they made me a hole/set.
"I would be in the pool practicing things like fakes, five-meter shots and positioning. I was never comfortable and was always nervous, but then I just got the hang of it."
The Nitros, who finished in a second-place tie in the Pacific League with Pasadena behind Crescenta Valley, are glad she did.
Plenty of responsibilities have been given to Terzyan, who uses a combination of power and finesse to help her shoot and defend.
"In the big games, she's one of our top goal scorers," Glendale Coach Forest Holbrook said. "Whatever role we ask of her, she does it perfectly.
"She's extremely smart and she knows how to press the opponents well. She's got that nice combination of size and finesse and those kind of players are hard to find. She a complete player who can compliment others well."
Terzyan, who finished with 26 goals and 17 assists last season en route to earning all-league first team and All-Area second-team accolades, has made her teammates better.
Desiree Garcia-Solano, a junior utility player, said Terzyan is often the one the Nitros look to during the key junctures of a match.
"She's a big reason for our success," said Garcia-Solano, who has registered 35 goals and 29 steals. "She's the type of person who doesn't believe we are going to lose.
"She's probably one of the best players we've ever had in this program. She believes she can make that key shot."
Being the tallest player on the 12-member squad, Terzyan, who competed in the 100-yard butterfly and backstroke on Glendale's girls' swimming team last season, will spend time out of the pool working on strength and conditioning.
Push-ups, sit-ups, swimming and various leg exercises are part of the training regiment she uses to prepare her for 28-minute matches.
"Things become more natural with every game you play," Terzyan said. "You get more experience and you work hard at it everyday.
"With conditioning, you can move the ball around better. Your passing and shooting will get better and that's good for me because I like to distribute and try to get everybody on my team involved."