ST. CHARLES – When Olivia Traxler first arrived at St. Charles North as a freshman, she never dreamed of playing water polo beyond high school.
She had an obvious reason.
“Never seeing the possibility of playing water polo in college,” Traxler remembered, “since no one had done it.”
She can now say she has done it.
Traxler, who graduated from St. Charles North this year, soon will be attending Arizona State University as a member of its water polo program.
“She’s going to be the first Division I athlete that we’ve had on the water polo side in school history,” St. Charles North coach Chris Cloy said. “She really is an example that took every opportunity and ran with it.”
Traxler, who had planned to attend ASU for school, emailed a coach earlier this summer about the prospect of walking on. After auditioning in front of the coach at the Junior Olympics in July, Traxler was later offered a spot on the team.
“I hope that more incoming SCN players hear my story,” Traxler said, “and it inspires them to believe that they can play in college, too, if they work hard and seek out every possible opportunity to get better.”
Traxler is not on an athletic scholarship, but obtained money for academics. She is expected to play right away at center.
“I was a freshman in high school when I started water polo while most other people playing at the D-I level have been playing since they were in elementary school,” Traxler said. “I want other kids to know that anything is possible with hard work and dedication.
“Playing club for St Charles, joining the Olympic Development Program, and attending as many camps as possible got me to where I am. It’s not impossible.”
Traxler had a busy summer in 2018, a vast majority spent training with the Los Angeles Premier Water Polo Club. She also competed in the USA Water Polo National Junior Olympics in San Jose, California.
“She took every opportunity that we tried to present to the kids,” Cloy said. “When the perfect combination comes along of somebody that has the desire, the work ethic and takes advantage of those opportunities, it’s cool to see them get a payoff.”
St. Charles North’s Traxler, Lexi Coakley and Siba Filipovic were all named to the Illinois Water Polo girls and boys All-State teams for their achievements last season.
“They are the first three athletes in [St. Charles North] water polo history to be selected as all-state,” Cloy said. “That’s another step in that progression of showing kids how successful you can be and trying to give kids aspirations to be at that level.”