Nine Spartans named Academic All-Americans

It isn't rare for La Cañada High student-athletes to put in just as much work in the classroom as they do on the field, in the gym or in the pool.

More evidence of that was revealed on Sept. 12, when nine members of the La Cañada Water Polo Club, including eight La Cañada High boys' water polo varsity players, were named 2010-11 Academic All-Americans by USA Water Polo.

"It's a great honor for these kids," said La Cañada High's first-year coach Steve Neville. "Obviously, [being named] in itself is a huge honor. To have that GPA, playing a sport and ranking among all the different kids in the country is a tremendous honor."

Seniors Wolfie Paulson, Allen Morovati, Ryan Gokey and Omar Khawaja and juniors John Louk, Bryce Hopkins, Chase Borisoff and Symeon Stefan made the list. Last year's second-leading goal scorer for La Cañada, senior Bo Mattix, who isn't playing for the school this year was also named an Academic All-American.

"La Cañada is a pretty hard school to get a good GPA in, but the coaches demand it from us," Borisoff said. "We are expected to succeed in the pool and the classroom."

In order to qualify for the honor, student-athletes had to participate in the USA Water Polo National Championship and have at least a 3.6 grade-point average. Athletes also received outstanding achievement if they had a GPA of 4.0 or higher.

"It's a great accomplishment because we dedicate a lot of time to water polo," said Morovati, who is juggling four AP classes during water polo season. "It's great to be recognized for both things, to go to a school that has great academics and athletics and allows you to excel at both."

Morovati said half of the varsity roster, which is 16 deep, were named Academic All-Americans. Seven of the nine who made the list — Paulson, Morovati, Gokey, Louk, Borisoff, Stefan and Mattix — were also recognized for outstanding achievement.

"We have a lot of smart guys on the team," Morovati said.

The grades definitely don't come easy, though.

"It gets pretty hectic during the season, you have to work pretty hard," Borisoff said. "Water polo practice goes about three hours a day and then you have to work on homework until pretty late. You just have to do whatever it takes."

Neville, who's also a La Cañada graduate, said being able to achieve success both academically and athletically is definitely apart of La Cañada's culture, but he said it's even more impressive for these water polo players because of their dedication to the sport.

"It's different because they are training a lot more than other sports," Neville said. "Three or four hours a day and it's another three or four hours of homework. For them to succeed doing all those things is a huge, huge accomplishment. I know it's a tradition for La Cañada High, but it's harder for the water polo team."

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