Jon Walters of Mater Dei is The Orange County Register/OCVarsity 2012 boys water polo player of the year.

Mater Dei's Walters is 2012 boys water polo player of the year


Opposing coaches often used the same analogy when describing Mater Dei water polo player Jon Walters. Simply put, he was …

A beast.

The 6-foot-3, 230-pound center was that tough for teams to defend.

“He’s just dominant,” Dana Hills coach Matt Rosa said.

Teams tried to slow Walters with double and triple teams but the senior still remained the game-altering force that powered Mater Dei to unprecedented success.

For his efforts, Walters is The Register’s player of the year.

“I play against Jon all the time,” Mater Dei coach and ex-Olympic defender Chris Segesman said earlier this season.

“Jon is a college center. He’s big. He’s strong. He’s fast. There’s no one to compare to him at the center position right now in high school.”


2012 All-County boys water polo team

Dana Hills' Rosa is the 2012 boys water polo coach of the year

The USC commit led Mater Dei with 126 goals but was also largely credited for freeing attacker Kent Inoue for a 93-goal season.

With defenders focusing on Walters in front of the cage, Inoue used his outside shooting to make a strong push for first-team All-County honors (Inoue was selected second team).

“We’re all a team and I don’t care who scores the goals as long as they get put up for our team,” Walters said. “I just want to win. … I think maybe they (other teams) thought we had weak links in Kent (Inoue), Phillip (Tran) and (Matt) Cuozzo, and they were wrong.”

Mater Dei never lost with Walters as its center. The Monarchs were 31-0 and CIF-SS Division 1 champions the past two seasons with him at 2 meters.

Walters wasn’t eligible as a sophomore following his high-profile transfer from Newport Harbor.

“That’s pretty cool,” Walters said of being undefeated at Mater Dei. “I’m pretty excited to leave high school having that.”

But for all his dominance this season, which included being selected Trinity League MVP, Walters hasn’t forgotten his humble beginnings in water polo.

He started his climb in the sport as an overweight youth.

Walters first played at age 7 or 8 for CdM Water Polo Club and Coach Ted Bandaruk.

Walters first wanted to play football but said he was too heavy to play Pop Warner. He tried water polo and fell in love with the sport.

“I wasn’t the best,” he recalled. “I was little out of shape, little chubby, but I kept working and stuck with it and got better over time.”

Part of Walters’ rise eventually included attending daily swim and water polo practices. He swam club for Aquazot and played club water for Split OC and Coach Petar Asic, whom he credits as an early influence.

“I swam for a club swim team every night, and went straight to water polo practice,” Walters said. “It’s been tough. I definitely worked at it a lot but it seems to be paying off.”

Walters plans to keep his strong work ethic at USC, which is aiming for a fifth consecutive NCAA title this weekend.

“I want to play for USC next year,” he said. “I don’t want to fizzle out.”

Most beasts don’t.

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