After playing youth soccer for a number of years, Noah Hodge was ready for a change, a change that took him from the pitch to the pool.
“I started swimming a little bit and my coach told me, ‘You’d be perfect for water polo,’” says Hodge. “So I decided to try it out. Ever since then, I’ve fallen in love with the sport, and it’s been a great experience.”
The Santa Margarita Catholic High School senior and three-year varsity player has remained in net, carrying over his goalkeeper position from soccer to water polo. It’s an intense spot to be in each match, but Hodge welcomes the pressure.
“I love that aspect of the game,” says the 17-year-old. “Having the stress upon my shoulders is what I love about the game.”
The transition to a water sport wasn’t without its challenges, as Hodge recalls his first few months were some of the most intense training sessions he’s ever experienced. But the physicality of water polo is one of his favorite aspects.
“It’s really physically exerting, and I love that part of the game,” says Hodge. “The community around water polo is so small…we just form such a tight-knit group of guys.”
As a captain for the Eagles, Hodge demands a high work ethic from his teammates, but leads by example, using every practice as a chance to get better.
“Noah is a special talent. He is smart, polite, competitive, respectful, conscientious and hardworking,” says Santa Margarita boys water polo head coach, Jeremy Laster. “He is a true leader…and he always seemed to play his best when we needed him most. We will miss him next year out of the pool as much as we will miss him in the pool.”
Away from athletics, Hodge enjoys leading his junior high youth group at his church, a place he feels is a great opportunity to share his faith and be a role model to the younger kids.
His hard work and commitment to both his sport and his studies have earned Hodge acceptance at Harvard University, where the San Juan Capistrano resident will play water polo and study engineering.
“I’ve seen throughout water polo how hard work can, and will, take you places,” says Hodge. “You’ll be able to accomplish any of your goals, as long as you work hard and love what you’re doing.”
Hodge credits his parents for his work ethic and his foundation in faith and God for the skills and talents that are allowing him to take this next step.
“I think my faith has played a huge part in my game,” says Hodge. “I know that God’s always with me when I play, and I just ask him for courage and strength. It’s been such a great experience having him by my side and knowing he’s there.”