Girls water polo: Stevenson's Travetto making the most of triumphant senior season
Needing to negotiate a small space, Allison Travetto got resourceful.
Which for a girl closing in on 200 goals -- this season -- isn't shocking.
The senior is, after all, smart.
"It's probably why she is the player she is," Stevenson girls water polo coach Jeff Wimer said. "She's attuned to everything, all the time, especially in the pool."
Firing a water polo ball into a roughly three-meter-by-one meter net, with a goalie guarding it, is hard enough. But last October, Travetto had an equally challenging, if not harder, space dilemma. It required a thinking cap, not a padded swimming cap.
She was taking a recruiting visit to Long Beach State University in California. On Halloween weekend. Naturally, The Natural had to bring a costume.
"Lifeguard," she thought. So she packed a lifeguard T-shirt, trunks and visor, and hopped on an airplane.
"I couldn't take much," Travetto said. "I had this little bag.
"It was the best I could do on short notice."
Travetto's best is usually quite spectacular. She is Stevenson's elite (No.) 8, as one look at her career statistics would attest. After scoring 21 goals in three games on Saturday at Stevenson, where the host Patriots beat Lincoln-Way Central, Naperville Central and Neuqua Valley, the 5-foot-7 utility player has 197 goals for the season. She tallied 168 times last season, as Stevenson won its first state championship, struck for 152 goals as a sophomore and had a "mere" 56 goals as a freshman.
"I made Allison play in a couple JV games first (as a freshman), and I explained to her that she needed to show the varsity girls that she would have to gain their respect," Wimer said. "By the third game, I put her in a varsity game and she scored 4 goals. The varsity girls were asking me why she wasn't starting. She earned her position and their respect very quickly."
It's not surprising, considering Travetto is everything a coach wants in a player. While her career numbers -- 573 goals, 240 assists, 392 steals -- are mind-blowing, she brings more than skill to the pool. Wimer calls her a coach in the water and complete player who hates to lose. She was a captain for the swimming team, even though she wasn't a star, and is a two-year captain for Wimer.
At Long Beach State, with whom she signed a national letter of intent, she plans to study recreational therapy. She will play for former Olympian Gavin Arroyo, who is the 49ers' head coach.
Who would have thunk that four years ago? Not Travetto, who was a talented soccer player at the time.
But she had started playing water polo the summer after sixth grade for the local age-group program, and the sport became her passion. Her decision would be a loss for Stevenson soccer and a huge gain for Stevenson water polo.
"Allison was a fair swimmer to begin with," Wimer said.
"I could shoot," said Travetto, a righty. "But that's all I could do."
And all Stephen Curry could do was shoot a basketball.
Travetto no doubt got some of her hand-eye coordination from her dad, Dave, who played tennis at Indiana University. She, in fact, credits her father for teaching her how to throw. She is one of three kids and the only girl of Dave and Jan.
"I've been doing this 26-27 years," Wimer said. "Allison is the purest shooter I've coached in my entire career."
They call it "handles" in basketball. In water polo, Travetto is Jalen Brunson.
"Allison's ball-handling skills are incredible," Wimer said. "She'll get double-teamed, triple-teamed. Some of them will be going for the ball and she'll flip it over here (left hand to right hand), come here (throwing position), move away from 2-3 girls, and still put it in. And rocket it."
Like with most sports, speed kills in water polo. And Travetto brings that element to her game too.
"Allison's anticipation is second to none," Wimer said. "She sees what's going on. Defensively, if she needs to be somewhere to help out, she is. If she sees that it's covered defensively and we're going to get the ball, she's already countering to the offensive end."
Travetto does more than put up prolific numbers. She put up a calendar in the locker room noting certain school attire for her teammates on game days. Camouflage one day, pajamas another day. This Thursday, on opening night of the sectionals, it's Hawaiian shirt day. For Senior Night, all of the girls wore dresses. Their head coach couldn't have been prouder.
"They all looked like nice young ladies," Wimer said, smiling. "I took a picture of all (seven) senior girls."
Wimer might have to frame that picture. If he needs to find space on a crowded wall or desk, he knows who to call.
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