Most recent high school graduates in the summer before they go off to college think about getting books and stuff for their dorms. Maddie Musselman, who will begin at UCLA in the fall, is thinking about getting an Olympic gold medal.
Musselman, who just turned 18 less than two months ago, is the second youngest player on the Team USA women’s water polo team, but is already making a big impact. She looks to be one of their biggest scorers in Rio.
Water polo beginnings
Musselman originally grew up swimming and playing soccer, but found water polo at a young age. She attended Corona del Mar High School, the same school U.S. men’s team player John Mann attended. She scored 98 goals in her junior season, but withdrew from school prior to her senior year and instead took online classes as a way to focus full time on Team USA’s water polo team.
The 5-foot-11 attacker has been training with Team USA for three years. She scored 13 goals in the Olympic qualifying tournament. She scored nine goals in the FINA Intercontinental Tournament, five goals in the FINA World Championship, and nine goals in the Pan American Games, helping the U.S. squad get gold medals in each tournament.
Role on team
Musselman was named to Team USA on June 16 of this year, which also happened to be her 18th birthday. She is part of Team USA’s youth movement, one of nine members under the age of 23 years old. She, as well as 19-year-old teammate Makenzie Fischer, will still be looked to as a leaders on the squad, having played with the rest of the women on the team for several years. Head coach Adam Krikorian told the L.A. Times “I’ve challenged their (Musselman and Fischer’s) ability to lead… they were forced to mature very quickly, and to have a voice amongst the team. I think it’s helped them develop physically in their ability, but also to develop socially and become what I would call leaders on this team.”
Musselman revealed to the L.A. Times that her sixth grade yearbook has a picture of her asking what she would like to be when she grows up. Her quote underneath said “Olympic water polo player.” After the Olympics, Musselman will play collegiately at UCLA, the same school where her older sister, Alex, played and recently graduated. Musselman also has a younger sister, Ella. Her dad was a pitcher for the Toronto Blue Jays and New York Mets.