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October 31, 2011

Catching Up With...Tamara Perea

Perea Continues Stellar Water Polo Career At Pro Level In Madrid, Spain

By Annie Oxborough-Yankus (PI '12)

Tamara Perea ended her standout collegiate career for the Pomona-Pitzer Women's Water Polo team last spring with the conclusion of her senior season. But her water polo career still continues on, a half a world away.  

Perea is a 2011 Pitzer graduate and was a four-year member of the Pomona-Pitzer Women's Water Polo team, where she was named SCIAC Athlete of the Year and also NCAA Division III Player of the Year in both 2010 and 2011, as well as Pomona-Pitzer's Most Valuable Athlete.

Perea has recently moved to Spain to continue her water polo career at the professional level playing for La Latina Covibar-Rivas. Perea believes her current team is comparable to her former Pomona-Pitzer team. "We are small and short on numbers but we all work very hard," Perea said.

She also views professional water polo as similar to playing club water polo in the U.S. during the summer: "Everything I do involves water polo in some way, but it also allows me to go different places," she said. "However, the women are bigger and stronger, and the play is a great deal different than play in the U.S. Right now, I am my team's starting center, and I have never been 2m, but this change allows me to get a lot of work done for my team and open up opportunities for my teammates.

"I've been drawing a lot of exclusions and 5m penalties for my team and I'm second in goals scored. It's different and I can do a lot of stuff that I couldn't in NCAA water polo, like face in set and get the ball and score without a turnover, great right?!" Believe it or not, that's actually how she scored the first goal of her professional career!

When Perea looks back on her years at Pitzer she has fond memories of the people who surrounded her the most often: her teammates. "I can't think of a better group of people throughout all four years at Pitzer," she said.  

When asked to highlight the best part of the Sagehens Water Polo program, Perea responded: "It is competitive. We take it seriously, and we strive to do our best no matter what the outcome. That is why when we play UCLA or Stanford, we can walk away with our heads held high knowing that we gave it all we had. We can do that in SCIAC as well, I don't have two SCIAC championships and a Division III National championship because I relaxed. I gave it everything I had. It is an expectation of the program, and that's why it is so amazing to have been a part of."

Clearly, the program feels the same way about Tamara Perea.

"Perea gave the program so much energy during the last four years, and she was a large reason as to why the Pomona-Pitzer Women's Water Polo program has been so successful," said Pomona-Pitzer Water Polo's Head Coach Alex Rodriguez. "Tamara developed into the best SCIAC player I ever coached. She not only led by example, but excelled in all aspects of the game: driver defense, shooting, field blocking and pressure passing. She was also the most clutch player I have had while at Pomona-Pitzer Colleges; every big possession during her career she was taking the shot."

"We teach goalies to read a shooter's shoulders as to where a shot is going to go," added Jim Armstrong, one of Pomona-Pitzer Water Polo's Assistant Coaches. "Tamara never gave any indication as to where she was shooting and was very good at leaning a bit one way and shooting the other, which gave goalies fits. She also kept  her shoulders in perfect position and her body on balance after faking which is very difficult. She scored so many big goals during significant games that I lost count."

Many of us can only aspire to have the motivation, skill and passion that Perea has for water polo.  To get a small glimpse into her focused mindset, one phrase that motivates Perea, whether it be before a game or any other challenging experience, is: "Whatever is meant to happen will happen. We can only work with the knowledge we have right now. Be in the moment, you can only control what you do and hope for the best."

It is evident that Perea is representing Pomona-Pitzer, the Claremont Colleges, Southern California, and the United States well over in Madrid, Spain. We wish her the best of luck with her professional career, and we know she will continue to make us just as proud as she has the last four years.