Q&A with Alex Bowen, Stephanie Haralabidis, and Melissa Seidemann from Team USA Olympic Water Polo
The 2021 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo are quickly approaching and FieldLevel got the opportunity to speak with Alex Bowen, Stephanie Haralabidis, and Melissa Seidemann from Team USA’s men’s and women’s Olympic water polo teams.
|About Alex Bowen||About Stephanie Haralabidis||About Melissa Seidemann|
|Alex Bowen is a renowned shooter on Team USA from Santee, California. Bowen grew up in San Diego and got introduced to water polo by his dad, who has been a coach in the sport for over 30 years. After high school, Bowen fulfilled his dream of playing water polo at Stanford.||Stephanie Haralabidis grew up playing water polo in Athens, Greece after her dad encouraged her to play. Haralabidis eventually moved to the United States during high school and played collegiate water polo at USC afterward, where she won an NCAA title in 2016.||Melissa Seidemann was introduced to water polo by a swim coach early on in her life. She grew up in Walnut Creek, California, and played for a variety of clubs and her high school team before beginning her collegiate career at Stanford.|
Who inspires you and why?
AB: I’m constantly inspired by the life of Tony Gwynn, Mr. Padre. He was the ultimate team player and an icon in San Diego, so I grew up looking up to him.
SH: I’m inspired by my mother – she is who I want to become. She is kind, hard-working, and always takes care of my sister and me.
MS: I am inspired by my family because they have made so many sacrifices to allow me to follow my dreams and this inspires me to continue to pursue excellence. My teammates also inspire me — it is so fun to be in a group where my passion is matched and sometimes surpassed, and it keeps me motivated to be the best I can be so that I can support them.
What is your most memorable moment as an athlete?
AB: Qualifying for the Olympics after winning the Pan American Games was undoubtedly my most memorable moment as an athlete.
SH: The moment I found out I was making the Olympic team. I was overcome with so much pride and joy at that time, and it’s a memory I’ll never forget.
MS: One of my most memorable moments as an athlete was during lineups before our first match in 2012. I stood between two veteran players and I was so nervous — frankly, I was trying to hide my tears. Both of the players looked at me and said, “Get it together it’s just water polo.” This was a memorable moment for me because it put the journey into perspective for me.
What role did your coach play in your development as a player and as a person?
AB: As a water polo coach himself, my dad set me up to be who I am today. Additionally, every coach I’ve had has shaped me into a better player and person in their own unique ways.
SH: I’ve had multiple coaches throughout my life who have all played instrumental roles in shaping me into who I am today — both in the pool and outside of it.
MS: I have had so many coaches who have helped me develop in different ways and I’m so thankful for those who have supported me in the past and continue to support me on this journey.
What advice would you give to young athletes today who want to play at the college level and beyond?
AB: Master the basics, fine-tune your movements, always be a student of the game, steal from the best, and adapt anything and everything to your play style.
SH: Good things come to those who are willing to work hard.
MS: Explore all of your options. There are so many great schools with awesome water polo programs, so find them all and let your heart guide you to the right place for you. I would also caution you not to box yourself in — you don’t have to play for a specific club, coach, or attend a camp to make college a possibility. These things help get your name out there, but your focus should be on your play and being the best you can be because the rest will take care of itself.
How does it feel to be an Olympic athlete and what are you most looking forward to in the Tokyo Olympics?
AB: This feeling is amazing and it’s an honor like no other to represent my country, my sport, and my family in Tokyo. I’m really just looking forward to playing and making myself and others proud.
SH: I feel so much pride and joy being an Olympic athlete. In Tokyo, I am really excited to compete at the highest level within water polo and produce results that showcase the hard work we’ve all put into preparation for this moment.
MS: I am incredibly proud and grateful to say that I am an Olympic athlete and I’m just excited to compete with my teammates in Tokyo. I play on a team of incredible athletes and their passion constantly humbles me — there is nothing else in the world like uniting that passion on a global stage.
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