Water polo captain student athelete, long relationship with sports

By Alejandra Carrillo

The women’s water polo team captain at East Los Angeles College, Veronica Orantes, has been an athlete since the age of five and has always loved participating and being on a team.

The 22-year-old was raised in Montebello along with her athlete father and mother, who was a model, and sister.

Orantes began playing softball since she was five years old so during her high school years at Montebello High School she played softball all four years.

During high school, she became the co-captain and her team traveled to Utah to play where they won first place qualifying for the Superbowl Series in Illinois. They won taking first place.

The team again qualified to go to another Super Bowl Series, but she did not go because her family couldn’t afford it.

“My parents attended every game and always cheered for me. Just because I like the sport, they like it too,” Orantes said.

She began playing water polo with a team in the city of Commerce and when she graduated high school, she decided to continue playing at ELAC.

Orantes said other than water polo helping her develop a healthy lifestyle, it has also helped her keep her grades up and stay active.

Not only does she play water polo at ELAC, she is also on the swim team.

“Because I’m in the swim team I think my coach was able to see in me that I am able to bring what a captain brings,” Orantes said.

Orantes expresses that her biggest inspiration to continue playing water polo is Commerce water polo player Brenda Villa, who played in the Olympics.

“I have never met her(Brenda Villa), but I played with her brother during high school. I think to myself ‘If she made it, I can make it, too,” Orantes said.

About a month ago, Orantes broke her toe and was not able to play in conference. She says she was very disappointed, but noticed that the team stepped up their game considering they were playing rio hondo, their toughest competitors.

“My biggest fear in life is failing, not being able to accomplish my long-term goals, or losing a game. Like when I broke my toe, I felt like I had failed,” Orantes said.

She says that a few of her teammates have told her that she has inspired them to try their best in every game and have thanked her for all the positive feedback she gives them.

“She(Veronica) is highly influential not only because she’s captain and she feels obligated to, but because she wants to be a good example for the team. She attends every practice and works hard during practice and in games,” teammate Irene Young said.

Orantes’ other teammate Yingfei “Alice” Zhang feels the most inspired by her because as a foreign exchange student she has the most difficulty adapting to the lifestyle here.

“Every time when I don’t understand what teammates are talking about, she will tell me again and again or search the word for me until I get it. She recommends I watch American movies and sometimes watches them with me,” Zhang said.

Orantes plans to transfer to California State, Fullerton where she hopes to qualify to play in a Division 1 level.

She says that during each games she is always so focused, serious and determined to win, but when she is not focusing on water polo, she enjoys playing video games and watching anime.

“I would like to continue playing water polo in a club team, but my career focus is Animation,” Orantes said.

She says that between work, school, and water polo, her schedule is so busy she doesn’t have time to do any extra activities so she tries to fit in her anime obsession when she can.

Orantes says that she would love to create a Pixar movie one day or draw characters for a movie.

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