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Sinclair fulfills dream as pro

WATER POLO: Former Newport Harbor High standout is taking game to yet another level, playing professionally in Australia.

January 21, 2008|By Steve Virgen

The dream started at a young age, carrying on through high school in Newport Beach, going topsy-turvy in college at Santa Barbara and now heading down under.

No, the dream is not over for Ross Sinclair. It has become reality.

Thursday, Sinclair, a former standout water polo player at Newport Harbor High, will be in his first pro game as the season starts for the Hunter Hurricanes of Australia’s National Water Polo League.

Yes, Sinclair can call himself a professional water polo player. That’s what his dream was all about back when he started playing at age 9.

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There was a sense he had pro potential in high school, when, as a freshman, he was part of Newport Harbor’s CIF Southern Section Division I championship team. Later on, he was named Sea View League MVP in his senior year.

It was easy to see Sinclair had skill. He also studied the game diligently, keeping in the back of his mind that he would someday become a coach.

Yet for all that Sinclair had going for him in high school, there was something missing. Sinclair lacked size.

He was 5-foot-9, 135 pounds when he graduated from Newport Harbor in spring 2003. He headed for UC Santa Barbara. As a freshman, there seemed to be just one thing left to do.

He ate. He ate. And, he ate.

“In my freshman year, all the freshmen got together and we all had a competition of who could gain the most weight,” Sinclair said. “We probably ate nine to 12 meals a day.” Also during his time at UC Santa Barbara, Coach Wolf Wigo continually encouraged Sinclair to spend more time in the weight room.

Sinclair arrived at UCSB a thin boy. But, he left the Gauchos a different man at 6-feet, 180 pounds.

Sinclair was also different in the water. He was a smart player in high school, an accurate passer who thrived on counterattacks.

But he took it to the next level, even though it seemed he had every reason to quit.

However, by the end of his college career, he had left his mark with the Gauchos.

He finished tied for fifth among UCSB all-time scoring leaders with 156 career goals. He revived the offense in the program, becoming the most prolific goal scorer UCSB had seen in over 20 years.

“He had a tremendous feel for the game, and always made incredible goals,” Wigo said. “He was always in shape and could play more minutes than most players. He was also very competitive.”

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