Samantha Loughlin began her career in the pool at age five, and it was her older sister, Emily, who inspired her to try water polo.
“I’ve always loved the water,” says Loughlin. “My older sister started water polo when she was young, and me and my family always spent time on the pool deck. The only way to get family time in was to watch her games. Eventually I grew to love the sport just by watching her.”
The senior center defender at Santa Margarita Catholic High School enjoys shutting down the opponents’ offense as well as guiding her fellow defenders in the pool. The unpredictability of the sport is what keeps her interested.
“I love how every time I come to practice or into a game there’s a new situation, and I always have to be on my toes,” says Loughlin. “It’s not the same thing happening over and over again. It’s situational, and I’m always on my feet thinking.”
As a captain for the Eagles, Loughlin feels the most effective way to lead is to show good sportsmanship and be in constant communication with her teammates in the water. Santa Margarita girls water polo head coach Brian Weathersby leans on the 17-year-old to set the right example.
“Samantha is a hard-working athlete who thrives on defense,” says Weathersby. “She brings toughness, experience and leadership to our team. Her presence on defense gives us a huge advantage during games because we can always count on her.”
As is the case for many high school athletes, balancing school and sports is the biggest challenge for Loughlin. Her years at Santa Margarita have not only helped her learn how to balance her time, but have taught her the meaning of teamwork.
“You always have to be cohesive with your team,” says Loughlin. “If you’re not on the same page, it’s going to be really hard to follow through with the game.”
Outside of the pool, Loughlin is a member of her local National Charity League chapter, where she serves her community, including assisting military families. The San Clemente resident has committed to San Diego State University where she will play Division I water polo and pursue studies in elementary education. She’s grateful for how the presence of her faith has helped to guide her as a student athlete.
“I just love the aspect of God at Santa Margarita,” says Loughlin. “Without my faith, it would just be really challenging for me to get through high school.”
As she watches Emily conclude her college water polo career at the University of California, Berkeley and prepare to play professionally in France, Loughlin draws inspiration and motivation from her biggest role model.
“I really just love how she’s a great leader,” says Loughlin. “She’s taught me to never give up.”