June 12, 2002
San Francisco, Calif. - USA Water Polo national team players Coralie Simmons (2001), Brenda Villa (2002), and Tony Azevedo (2001) were all honored as the recipients of the sport's top collegiate honor, the Peter J. Cutino Award, at the annual dinner just outside of San Francisco last weekend (June 8).
The dinner was held at the Lakeside Golf Club, operated the Olympic Club.
The award is named after Peter J. Cutino, Coach Emeritus from the University of Califonia, Berkeley, and is presented annually by the Olympic Club to the country's top male and female collegiate water polo players.
Coralie Simmons (Hemet, Calif.), the 2001 women's winner, was presented with her award almost a year after her season had ended because the Trustees of the award had decided to change the cycle to coincide with the academic year. Simmons, a senior national team member since 1995, was a member of the USA team that captured silver in Sydney, the first Olympics to include women's water polo on its roster of sports. The 5'9" driver came back from Australia to lead her UCLA squad to the first ever NCAA Women's Championship in 2001.
The male recipient for 2001 was Tony Azevedo (Long Beach, Calif.) of Stanford University. Azevedo also returned from the 2000 Olympic Games to guide his team to an NCAA title, helping push the Cardinal to the crown in head coach Dante Dettamanti's final season at the helm. Azevedo put together an outstanding season, leading the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) in scoring. He was eventually named as co-MVP of the MPSF Tournament, MPSF Player of the Year, and MVP of the 2001 NCAA Championships. Azevedo was also a finalist for the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) James E. Sullivan Award, given annually to the country's top amateur athlete.
The 2002 Cutino women's award went to 2000 Olympian and Stanford standout Brenda Villa (Commerce, Calif.). In the tightest balloting of the three years of the award process, Villa came away with the award. The Cutino tops off a storybook year for Villa, who helped her team to the 2002 NCAA Championship over UCLA, a year after dropping a heartbreaker to the Bruins in the final. Villa, like Simmons, is known as one of the top shooters in the game today.
The awards for the 2002 men's season and the 2003 women's NCAA season will be presented next June by The Olympic Club, America's oldest athletic club.