Brenda Villa wants more. The Commerce, Calif., native has already established herself as one of the top collegiate water polo players in the country and recently represented the United States as a member of the first Olympic women's water polo team in 2000. Last year in her first season competing for the Cardinal, Villa was named the Division I Water Polo Player of the Year after scoring 69 goals and leading her team to the National Championship. Stanford, though, came up one game shy of winning the title.
"We were in the final game last year," said the 5-4 driver. "Even though we came up short, just being in the position and having the opportunity to play for a championship was awesome."
The opportunity was a great one coming from someone who started swimming with her city club team at the age of six. Eventually she followed her brother's footsteps and after bugging her mom for a year and a half, she got tired a hearing about it and signed Brenda up for water polo when she was eight years old.
Villa went on to play for a club team with both boys and girls in the falls from age 8-14. She then played with the girls Junior Olympic Team and in high school was left no choice but to play with the boys team because her school didn't have a girls team.
"My school did not have a girls team, so I played on the boys team," commented Villa. "It wasn't bad because I had played with boys since I was a little kid. All my teammates that I grew up with went to my high school so they were used to playing a girl.
Sometimes the opposing teams would have a problem, but they dealt with it."
The year after Brenda graduated from Bell Gardens High School, they started a girls team and have dominated their league ever since.
Villa's first interest in Stanford is not your normal story of an athlete growing up and dreaming of playing for a certain school. Instead it was her swimming coach who took the team to see a Pac-10 swimming meet at Long Beach State.
"I saw the Stanford girls swimming and I loved the 'S'," laughed Villa. "It first started as a joke but then I seriously thought about it and realized it was a great school. Ever since then Stanford was where I wanted to go."
What started as a joke turned out to be a good thing for Stanford. With all the awards Brenda has earned in her first year competing for the Cardinal in 2001 -- First Team All-America, First Team All-MPSF, MPSF Co-Player of the Year, First Team All-Tournament Teams of the NCAA and MPSF Championship and National Player of the Year accolades -- she had to make an important decision in 1999 whether to stay with the Cardinal or to train with the National Team and have the possibility to compete at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.
"Being on the Olympic water polo team was not a realistic goal until they announced it would be a sport starting in 2000," said Villa. "When I was 17 it was introduced as an Olympic sport and I could actually say that I was training for something."
Brenda then made the choice to take time off from Stanford, knowing that she did not have a guaranteed spot on the National Team.
"I figured that I didn't have anything to lose. Either way I was going to become a better water polo player."
Despite everything Brenda has accomplished she still wants more, and most importantly she wants her degree from Stanford. Even though Brenda is listed as a sophomore athletically, she is on track to graduate next June.
"I have taken time off from school to train, but my mom always reminds me that it's important to finish," said Villa. "Right now I want to compete in Athens in 2004, finish school and win an NCAA Championship."
Stanford is on the right track to get back to the championship game, holding a 16-1 record with three games left in the regular season. Villa has also had a remarkable year thus far, recording 45 goals in 17 games.
"Even before I came to Stanford, winning a championship is something I want to do. It's on my list of goals that I hope to accomplish in life."
Hopefully Brenda will get what she wants and more.