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Pipkin rocks for Newport Harbor

Daily Pilot High School Athlete of the Week

Sailors junior, who scored game-winning goal at Foothill, has plenty of talent in and out of pool.

December 20, 2013|By Matt Szabo
  • Newport Harbor High's Kate Pipkin is the Daily Pilot High School Athlete of the Week.
Newport Harbor High's Kate Pipkin is the Daily Pilot… (SCOTT SMELTZER,…)

Newport Beach isn't exactly Graceland, but leave it to Newport Harbor High junior Kate Pipkin to find special meaning in each location.

She can tell you how special it is to play for one of the top high school water polo programs in the country, but Pipkin would almost rather wax poetic on Elvis Presley.

Pipkin said that she has a passion for music, which seems like an understatement when she almost casually adds that she can play six instruments. There's the bass, the ukulele, the mandolin, the drums and the piano. Make sure you don't forget about her favorite, the electric guitar.

"I like a lot of the old rockabilly, the Elvis kind of music," Pipkin said. "You can play, then you can go straight into a solo. You can mix it up. I like that whole era of music, the birth of rock-and-roll."

The birth of Pipkin as a water polo player happened at the end of sixth grade. Her father Matt, who played the sport at Palos Verdes High, was trying to get Kate's younger brother Collin into water polo. Kate decided she would also try the sport herself.

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It almost didn't last too long. Pipkin almost never made it to the Sailors' pool. She said she nearly went to Orange County School of the Arts in Santa Ana. But in the end, she enrolled at Newport Harbor as a freshman and ended up on the Sailors frosh/soph team, where she played goalie.

"I can't read music, and I'm not formally trained in anything but guitar," she explained. "It just didn't add up, I guess, but I would definitely love to be in a band, to be famous and whatever."

She will play in front of big crowds this year, but with a Mikasa water polo ball instead of a guitar. That's something that the Sailors (3-0), who play at Corona del Mar on Friday at 5 p.m. in the Battle of the Bay game, can appreciate. Pipkin, in her first year as a starter, has seemed to come into her own in the pool.

She scored the winning goal in transition with 27 seconds left on Dec. 13 as Newport Harbor upset Foothill, 8-7, on the road. In terms of rankings it wasn't much of an upset, as the Knights came into the match ranked No. 2 in CIF Southern Section Division 1 and the Sailors No. 3. But there has been a sense this year that top-ranked Laguna Beach and Foothill were the teams to beat in CIF.

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