Leo Peña Splashes Into October’s Athlete of the Month


Courtesy of Portola News Network

Junior and captain Leo Pena palms the ball, keeping it up and ready to be passed to a fellow teammate as his legs powerfully eggbeat beneath him to keep afloat. Pena’s eyes are narrowed and defenses raised, ready to respond with a sudden burst of power depending on the situation around him.

Annie Qiao and Tiffany Wu

Rising from the water, arms out and ready for a powerful block, boys’ varsity water polo goalie and junior Leo Peña is one of the most underrated yet crucial figures in the game and October’s Athlete of the Month.

Though defensive players often do not receive the same glory as their offensive teammates, Peña has risen above the norm with an indomitable spirit and perseverance.

“You gotta keep going and do your best regardless if you are losing,” Peña said. “As a keeper you have to have that mentality, because if you let a goal in and you give up, the other team will punish you and score more. You gotta keep your head up.”

Peña is also one of three team captains, and frustrations from losses as a newly formed varsity group have never prevented him from serving as an inspiration to his teammates.

“As a captain, Leo leads us into every game and every practice allowing us to do our best,” varsity right driver and sophomore Jun Kim said. “Personally, Leo is an inspiration because when I first got into water polo last year, he was the first person to talk and give me helpful pointers, besides Coach [Kate Avery].”

Along with other fall season sports, the boys’ varsity water polo team has played against other competitive and skilled varsity teams for the first time. As a result, the players have faced disappointing losses throughout the season, but Peña has always pushed through until the end, demonstrating a mark of leadership as a captain and an instinct to always put the team first.

“I think what Leo brings to this team is his relentless passion for the sport,” Avery said. “He cares so much about the team being successful, and he is driven and motivated to be the best goalie that he can possibly be.”