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Girls' Water Polo: O'Beck thriving for Newport Harbor

Daily Pilot High School Athlete of the Week

Junior has improved in the pool throughout her high school years, during which included the passing of her father.

February 22, 2013|By Matt Szabo
  • Newport Harbor girls' water polo player Christina O'Beck is the Athlete of the Week. (Scott Smeltzer)
Newport Harbor girls' water polo player Christina… (SCOTT SMELTZER…)

The last time the Newport Harbor High girls' water polo team made the CIF Southern Section Division 1 championship match, Christina O'Beck was a bit disappointed.

Sure, she was thrilled for the Sailors, who came from behind to top rival Corona del Mar one year ago. O'Beck was even on the bench when it happened.

But the then-sophomore was there taking stats, not as part of the varsity roster. She said she was the only girl in the varsity workout group who wasn't called up to varsity for CIF.

"It was really disappointing," O'Beck said. "Varsity workout is so much different from the frosh-soph/JV workout. It's so much harder. I was really happy that I was on the workout, and I guess I just kind of assumed that the whole workout would move up."

The Daily Pilot Athlete of the Week is a bit of a funny case. Throughout her water polo career, she has played at two meters. But this year she has become a big-time outside shooter for the Sailors (24-6), who again face CdM for the title Saturday at 6:30 p.m. at Irvine's Woollett Aquatics Center.

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She understands why that is. The Sailors already have a stud center in UCLA-bound senior Elissia Schilling, and USC-bound senior defender Avery Peterson also can set.

But O'Beck, now a junior, has thrived in her new role. She is third on the Sailors with 41 goals. Four of them came last weekend, in Newport Harbor's huge 11-10 overtime victory at Laguna Beach in the quarterfinals.

If there's one thing that O'Beck has shown, it is that she is able to adapt. She had to do so two years ago when her father, Rick, died suddenly of a brain aneurysm. He was just 50 years old.

"It was 12 at night, and I was sound asleep, and then all of a sudden I heard my mom [Patti] screaming," Christina O'Beck said. "We just called 911, figuring that he'd go to the hospital and he'd be fine. But he was gone from the start. There was nothing that they could do."

The death occurred Feb. 21, 2011. It was just five weeks after another starter on this year's Sailors, senior Carolyn Smith, lost her mother, Nina, to pulmonary embolism.

The two-year anniversary of Rick's passing was Thursday. O'Beck received a text from Smith on that day. Both families are Catholic, and the girls have definitely talked to each other about their losses.

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