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U.S. water polo Olympians visit Girls Inc.

Gold-medal winners Mathewson and Rulon, along with Coach Klatt, offered advice at Costa Mesa-based organization.

November 27, 2012|By Matt Szabo
  • Olympic gold medalists Kelly Rulon, right, and Courtney Mathewson, address topics such as health and education to teens during a meet and greet at the Girls Inc. of Orange County center in Costa Mesa on Tuesday. Rulon and Mathewson helped the U.S. women's water polo team win gold at the 2012 London Olympics.
Olympic gold medalists Kelly Rulon, right, and Courtney… (KEVIN CHANG, Daily…)

COSTA MESA — The Girls Incorporated of Orange County organization likes to say it is inspiring all girls to be strong, smart and bold.

Girls Inc. hosted two women who possess those attributes at a special question-and-answer session Tuesday night at its headquarters in Costa Mesa. Those two young women, Kelly Rulon and Courtney Mathewson, also happen to be Olympic gold medalists.

Rulon and Mathewson, as well as Team USA assistant coach Dan Klatt, were on hand to entertain questions from about 40 girls. Afterward, they ate dinner with the girls, autographed special beverage glasses the girls received and posed for pictures.

The three Olympians helped the United States win its first Olympic gold medal in women's water polo last summer in London, and first water polo gold in the sport for Team USA since the men won in 1904. They gave advice on fitness as well as education. Rulon and Mathewson both went to UCLA.

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"Go to UCLA," Mathewson quickly answered, to laughs, when Tesoro High freshman Bryn McKibbin asked her how to pick the right college. But she went on to say the girls should look for the best fit, not only athletically but also academically and socially.

"There's a lot of decisions to make," said Mathewson, 26, who went to high school at Anaheim Canyon. "But it's not something that needs to be done in a day or two. Take your time, and try to learn as much as you can about everything."

Mathewson also described Team USA's practice schedule, which included nearly two hours of weight lifting and two miles of swimming in the morning, followed by nearly three hours of practice in the afternoon. The schedule was inspiring to Girls Inc. kids like Skylynn Gonzalez, 10, who is a fifth-grader at Victoria Elementary in Costa Mesa.

Gonzalez is a soccer player, and she said she ultimately wants to play in college. She is a Daily Pilot Cup veteran for Victoria.

"I'll take with me how they stay in shape, and how they're so competitive," Gonzalez said. "All of the things that they said make me want to try harder."

Both Mathewson and Rulon did preach to the girls the importance of exercise, as well as a good diet.

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