By Mariel Brunman
As captain of the USA Women’s Cadet National water polo team, Morgan Hallock ’13 led the United States team to a silver medal at the Union Americana de Natacion Jr. Pan American Games in Puerto Rico from Aug. 4-13.
She began the tryout process over a year ago with the Olympic Development Program, the umbrella organization for the tournament.
After making the cut for the 70-girl team, Hallock competed in two tournaments in California. Her performance won her a spot on the 13-girl roster.
Most of her teammates were also from Southern California, but a few members were from Hawaii or Florida, Hallock said. The team traveled to Miami to practice together before competing in San Juan, and at the end of the Miami training, Hallock was chosen as captain.
“Very quickly I recognized her ability to be an incredible leader, and I was not disappointed,” Hallock’s National Team coach, Kim Everest, said. “Trying to pull a team together in a short period of time requires an athlete who can bond the team and command respect, and Morgan did both.”
Everest also admired Hallock’s strong work ethic and exceptional drive.
“I could count on her to handle situations where her teammates needed to learn responsibility, and I could count on her to uplift and inspire her teammates,” she said. “I am blessed to have had the opportunity to work with Morgan. She is an incredible young woman who will continue to be very successful in her life.”
Hallock appreciated the opportunity to lead the team through the tournament.
“It was an honor to be the leader of our national team and represent our country,” she said. “It was amazing to work with other talented, athletic girls who had a similar work ethic to me. The amazing thing about playing at a national level is everyone puts in the equal amount of effort and time and are just as motivated to compete.”
Hallock was also chosen as the English-speaking representative to read the Athlete’s Oath during the opening ceremony that included an audience of players from teams hailing from Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Peru, Puerto Rico and Trinidad and Tobago.
“The different languages sometimes formed a barrier, but the USA girls were closest with both the Brazilian men’s and women’s teams,” Hallock said. “Of course, we also cheered on and supported our USA men’s team.”
Although the members of the team were young, the team came home with a silver medal. Neither Hallock nor many of her teammates had competed internationally before, and it was their first experience with different playing styles and toughness of other countries.
“Brazil was extremely physical and fast, while Canada was all my size and very strong,” Hallock said. “Throughout the tournament, we showed that even though we weren’t as experienced as some of the teams, we earned the right to be at the top.”
Ultimately, the American team lost in the finals to Canada by one.
“Canada versus. USA in any level of international play is like Loyola verseus. Harvard-Westlake and USC versus UCLA—a big deal,” Hallock said.
Although it was a tough loss, Hallock is using the defeat as incentive to work harder and hopefully defeat Canada at future tournaments.
Based on her performance in the Pan American Games, Hallock became eligible to qualify for the 2012 Youth World Championships in Australia next December.
“Through this experience, I have grown as a player, a leader and an American,” Hallock said. “Representing my country was one of the most amazing feelings and holding our flag high after being handed a silver medal doesn’t compare to anything else.”