Honnie Vandeweghe-O’Shea won’t ever forget Spring Break of 2019.
The sophomore at Santa Margarita Catholic High School stashed away her books and binders and headed to Perth, Australia with the U.S. national women’s water polo team, where they competed in the FINA Intercontinental Tournament, the first major competition of the season.
Vandeweghe-O’Shea was one of three high school players invited to team up with the best women’s water polo players in the U.S., many of whom won gold at the 2016 Summer Olympics and will comprise the 2020 team that competes in Tokyo.
“Making my international senior tournament debut has been super fun,” Vandeweghe-O’Shea told USA Water Polo during the tournament. “I have been learning so much from the older players. Just the experience from every practice and game is just so cool.”
On March 27, in the second game of the tournament, Vandeweghe-O’Shea scored her first goal with the senior national team in an 18-7 win against Japan.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” she said afterward. “I’m really glad I got to add to (the win) a little bit, and just to play with these amazing players is awesome.”
Vandeweghe-O’Shea has had plenty of strong mentors growing up.
Her mother is Tauna Vandeweghe, who competed in the 100-meter backstroke at the 1976 Summer Olympics, and was an alternate on the 1984 Olympic women’s volleyball team.
Her uncle is Kiki Vandeweghe, a two-time NBA All Star who played 13 years in league, averaging 19.7 points for his career. Her grandfather, Ernie Vandeweghe, also played in the NBA, and her half-sister is CoCo Vandeweghe, a professional tennis player who won a U.S. Open title in doubles last summer.
Honnie found her calling in water polo.
As a sophomore this winter at Santa Margarita, she led the Eagles to a massive upset of Orange Lutheran in Trinity League play, helping them tie for the league title with Mater Dei.
Vandeweghe-O’Shea late had four goals and six steals to help Santa Margarita win the CIF-SS Division 2 title with an 18-12 win against San Clemente.
She finished with 74 goals, 64 steals and 28 assists on the season, earning first-team all-Orange County by the OC Register and CIF-SS Division 2 co-player of the year.
U.S. national team coach Adam Krikorian knew his team would be shorthanded heading into Perth because several of his players were still competing with their college teams in late March. That opened the door for Vandeweghe-O’Shea to join the team while she was off for Spring Break at Santa Margarita.
The senior national team is coming off one of their most successful non-Olympic years ever. They won 33 of 34 games in 2018 and took first at the FINA World Cup, FINA World League Super Final and Intercontinental Tournament.
The opportunity to play with the most experienced players in the country was invaluable for Vandeweghe-O’Shea. After all, five of her teammates in Perth had already won two Olympic gold medals.
“There are so many great players,” Vandeweghe-O’Shea said. “I am just happy to be part of such an amazing team.”
Krikorian selected three high school players for his Olympic team that won gold three years ago in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
As the U.S. continues to build momentum toward 2020, don’t be surprised if Vandeweghe-O’Shea keeps her name in the hat too.