When Tahnee Trew took over at the helm of the Tracy High varsity boys’ water polo program back in 2020, she found it in a state that was crying out for help.
The Bulldogs had won just two Tri-City Athletic League (TCAL) games the season prior and ended the campaign with a 7-13 overall record. Additionally, the roster was extremely young and lacking leadership.
All of that showed in Trew’s first season in charge when her ‘Dogs went 2-11 overall, 1-8 in league in a pandemic disrupted campaign.
However, not discouraged by it all, the head coach persisted with her ways and saw potential in the young team of sophomores that she had just inherited. Now, two .500 or above seasons later, the ship has been steadied and steered in the right direction.
“I feel especially proud of the work both teams, JV and varsity, have put into this program to exceed everyone’s expectations,” Trew told the Tracy Press. “The difference in strength and competitiveness of our varsity team this year, versus my first year here, is astonishing.
“The team, all three years, has consisted of the same group. We had nine seniors this year, most of which were sophomores during my first season. I’m very proud of the work we all put in together to make a successful season. I always say it takes a village and it truly does.”
Astonishing is the word to describe the turnaround that Trew oversaw in just her second term in charge. Out of seemingly nowhere, the program rose like a phoenix from the ashes and put together a 16-11 (4-6 TCAL) season in 2021 and with plenty of room to grow left within the junior heavy team.
2022, on paper, was arguably less successful. The ‘Dogs finished league play with an identical record as the year prior and broke even at 11-11 overall. However, from a player development perspective, the program once again made strides.
Trew’s Bulldogs once again grew to the occasion and were competitive, with a number of players receiving All-TCAL recognition for their efforts in November. With that, the upward trajectory of the program was maintained.
“I watched these young players, who originally played just to have fun and be in a sport, transform into fierce competitors that weren’t afraid to go up against anyone in our league,” Trew added.
Five Bulldogs in total were honored with All-League selections, however one stood out from the pack all season long and set the standard for the team to follow in pursuit of a playoff return.
In the end, Tracy came up just short. But senior Jacob Herren did the unthinkable and was named the league’s Most Valuable Player despite the ‘Dogs finishing fourth in TCAL.
“I have never heard of this happening,” Trew said of Herren’s accomplishment. “The MVP typically goes to a player on the first or second placed team. But everyone in our league recognized Jake as a powerhouse and to have him voted as the Most Valuable Player was, and always will be, one of my proudest moments as a coach.”
Herren put together a terrific body of work in the pool for the Bulldogs in the fall and ended the season with a total of 146 goals (6.6 per game), 73 assists, 68 steals, and an All-Sac-Joaquin Section (SJS) first team selection to boot.
He was joined amongst TCAL honorees by seniors Bryant Martinez and Thomas Metge who both made the All-League second team. Martinez chipped in with 28 goals, 53 assists and 30 steals on the season. Metge had 31 goals and 43 assists.
Seniors Diego Perea and Benjamin Melendez received All-TCAL honorable mentions.
“To have five players recognized in the league is something we all take pride in,” Trew said. “It just goes to show the amount of work these boys have put in during the off-season. You’ve got to respect that.”
A tremendous sense of pride beamed out of every word Trew said about her team. The whole roster had to buy into her coaching philosophy in order to even come close to turning the program around and they did.
Despite the vast majority of this year’s Bulldogs’ being ready to graduate in the spring, a firm set of foundations has been laid out for those that are next in line. They helped Trew establish herself as a coach and she puts a lot of that down to being goal oriented and prioritizing individual growth.
“It wasn’t until my last season of college water polo that I realized how important it is to improve individually each day so that I could play a role in improving my team,” Trew said. “That’s something I saw change in many of the players this summer.
“It’s not selfish to create individual goals and work towards them. It’s like the saying, “There’s no ‘I’ in team, but there sure is a ‘me’. Each player had their own individual goals, but they were created with the intent of making our team stronger … The hard work and extra time in the pool pays off.”
Contact Arion Armeniakos at email@example.com, or call 209-830-4229.