College notebook: Alicia Began has found her place in college sports

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She sensed it during the first few practices. The early games provided even more reassurance.

But it wasn’t until after the Aggie Shootout, when UC Davis junior Alicia Began (Rio Mesa) knew for sure.

Switching positions from center to 2-meter defender this season resulted in a perfect fit for Began.

“I have found my groove with water polo at the college level,” Began said. “I finally get it, and I am really in my element. It’s so cool and so much more fun this way.”

The 5-foot-10 Began has 15 goals, 11 steals and nine assists this season.

She recorded back-to-back hat tricks on the final day of the Aggie Shootout earlier this month.

UC Davis head coach Jamey Wright informed Began of her position change when she inquired about her role before the season.

“It’s a huge difference because I now shoot from the outside and not the center of the pool,” Began said. “I think it makes me a lot stronger of a player. One thing coach also really wants me to do is push people out of the middle instead of staying in front of them, and I have been working hard to make my legs stronger this year.’

Began chose UC Davis over two other schools in the recruiting process. Her father attended the school, and the family tradition as expanded this year.

Began helped convince her younger brother, Zack, to attend UC Davis.

“I was really pushing for him to go here,” she said. “We hang out a lot and I love it. It’s good to have him around and get to spend time with him.”

Began, a Big West Conference All-Academic selection, entered UC Davis as a Math major. But a sorority sister suggested she look into Exercise Biology.

“I took a human cadaver and anatomy class this year and it was probably the coolest class I have ever taken,” Began said. “I am thinking of possibly becoming a nurse practitioner now or a physician’s assistant.”

It’s one of two switches that have given Began a new lease on college life.

“I feel like I am playing as a senior at Rio Mesa again,” she said. “I am really excited about everything.”

Diamond notes: Sacramento State freshman Shannon Kaufman (Agoura) recently raised her batting average by 118 points over an eight-game stretch. Kaufman is batting .340 after going 12 for 29 in eight games. … San Jose State freshman Annica Wolfe (Rio Mesa) drove in two runs in a 14-6 loss to Arizona. Wolfe is batting .338 with 16 RBIs in 27 games. … Notre Dame senior Brianna Jorgensborg (La Reina) finished 2 for 3 in a victory over New Mexico. … Cal State Northridge junior pitcher Justen Gorski (Moorpark) allowed two earned runs and struck out four in seven innings to pick up his third win of the season in a 12-5 victory over Sacramento State.

Odds and ends: Cal Poly redshirt sophomore Doug Bettisworth (Oak Park) won the 800-meter even with a personal-best time of 1 minute, 52.59 seconds in a dual meet against Fresno State. … Xavier University of Louisiana senior Hassan Abbas (Ventura College) was named Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Men’s Tennis Player of the Week. Abbas was 3-2 in singles and 3-2 in doubles. … Grand Canyon University freshman Samantha Magnani (Moorpark) earned her first individual All-American award by placing sixth in the 500 free at the NCAA Division II Swimming & Diving Championships. … Arizona State junior Kali Bennett (Ventura) was a second-team Pac-10 Conference All-Academic selection in women’s basketball. Bennett has a 3.41 GPA as a Design Studies major.

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