Surrounded by several friends who played water polo, it didn’t take much for Alexis Kieckhafer to find her passion in the sport.
“I’ve always loved the water,” says Kieckhafer. “We had friends who played, and they kind of got me into the sport. I fell in love with it since I was in sixth grade.”
The Santa Margarita Catholic High School senior is a four-year varsity player and goalkeeper for the Eagles. Kieckhafer enjoys the impact her position has on the game.
“I play a huge defensive role, and I love how I can control the defense,” says the 18-year-old. “It’s obviously a lot of pressure because if I make a mistake, it’s a goal. But I like the pressure and being put in those situations. Also, I like quarterbacking the team, passing the ball and communicating a lot.”
Despite her high-pressure role, Kieckhafer feels true joy being able to play a game she loves so much.
“I love the entire sport as a whole,” says Kieckhafer. “It’s so fast-paced. I like the feeling when I make a save or make a great pass. And I love my teammates and the community we have here at Santa Margarita. We’re all a family.”
As a captain for the Eagles, Kieckhafer leads by example and serves as another “coach in the pool.” She places a great deal of importance on team chemistry and is constantly working to keep her teammates focused and on the same page.
“Alexis is the backbone to our defense and brings a mental toughness to our team,” says Santa Margarita water polo head coach, Brian Weathersby. “She is not only a leader in the pool, but also holds the highest standards in the classroom. Her hard work and work ethic inspire the rest of her team.”
Water polo has taught Kieckhafer what it means to persevere and the importance of everyone doing their part. She leans on her faith as a way to help guide her both as a captain and a teammate.
“God has a huge role in how we play as a team,” says Kieckhafer. “It’s something that we all share and it helps us get on the same page.”
Outside the pool, the Ranch Santa Margarita resident serves as a tutor at Breakthrough San Juan Capistrano, an organization that provides academic enrichment for at-risk students. Kieckhafer is also a National Art Honor Society member (NAHS). She has committed to continuing water polo career at Harvard University, where she is looking to study engineering. Kieckhafer says she is influenced by those who surround her, but none more than her parents.
“I’ve seen them go through everything in their lives, and I’ve watched them overcome their challenges,” says Kieckhafer. “I look up to them so much, it’s inspired me to overcome my challenges and achieve my goals like they did.”