Olexiewicz takes over as boys’ water polo head coach

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© Richard Gillard/Acorn Newspapers
Dallas Donaldson keeps his eyes on the ball. © Richard Gillard/Acorn Newspapers
Hunter Castanon will remember Aug. 24, 2011, for a long time.

That’s the day the Camarillo High sophomore survived the cut for the varsity boys’ water polo team—and got a chance to talk about it with the local newspaper.

“I’m ecstatic,” Castanon said.

Castanon isn’t a typical rookie. He’s not afraid to crack jokes or keep teammates and coaches on their toes.

“I like to make coach’s life as difficult as possible,” Castanon said, channeling his inner Chad Ochocinco.

“It’s what he says—I twist his words around and turn them into something funny.”

The sophomore is one of many fresh faces on the Scorpions’ roster— and on the sidelines.

Matt Olexiewicz is in his first season guiding the varsity squad.

The man with the greatest Scrabble name west of the Mississippi River has big plans for the Scorpions.

“They’ve never really been pushed before,” Olexiewicz said.

“ I’m trying to look down the road to get these guys to be competitors in the league and be respected.”

Camarillo finished third in the Pacific View League last season and made a quick first-round exit in the playoffs.

The Scorpions hope to return to the postseason and progress into a solid program.

“Last year we were in the middle of the pack,” the coach said. “We’ve kind of always been there.

“It’s going to be a challenge this year. I’m looking ahead to the future to get these kids playing experience, and shaping and pushing the team in a new direction.”

Olexiewicz has an interesting balancing act.

He’s also Rio Mesa’s junior varsity swim coach.

Olexiewicz considers Derrick Timmons a mentor and friend. Head coach of the Spartan boys’ water polo squad, Timmons guided Rio Mesa to a CIF-Southern Section Division 6 title last fall.

Olexiewicz stresses fundamentals and consistent, smart play. It’s a hard challenge for any skipper, especially since more than half the players in the program started playing water polo three months ago.

“I’ve been blown away by their dedication,” he said. “I’m asking about 15-16 hours a week out of these boys. They’ve done it without hesitation. I have a physically small team, but they play with a lot of heart and they go into every game believing they can win.

“I’m pretty stoked with how far they’ve come. We have a long way to go.”

The summer was rough at times for the Scorpions. Camarillo lost every match in San Diego and Las Vegas tournaments.

“It sucks losing, but it’s a learning opportunity,” said junior driver James Adkins.

“At San Diego, we lost the first game really bad. Everybody was demoralized. We learned to keep our heads up and keep going hard. Staying positive is very important.”

With only one senior on board, Adkins said someone needs to step up as captain and leader.

The junior, who spent this offseason working on his defense and shooting, remains positive about this ship’s direction.

“I’m looking forward to a good season,” he said. “We have a great coach this year. We should do well.”

Tanner Clezie, another junior driver, said the Scorpions give maximum effort in the pool.

“We put a lot of heart in,” he said, “and we’re aggressive in the water.”

Camarillo counts on Clezie for stingy defense and supporting counterattacks.

Clezie looks forward to facing Rio Mesa, even if the Spartans have dominated the crosstown rivalry.

“They cast a large shadow over us right now,” Clezie said. “I think we’ll hold our own. We’ll definitely have to work hard to beat Rio Mesa.”

Michael Nunn played football for six years before giving water polo a try.

The sophomore driver is working hard at being a trustworthy teammate while improving his craft.

“I’m excited to learn a lot more,” Nunn said. “I always want to move forward every day. I don’t want to step back.”

Sophomore drivers Chet Hardy and Tyler Williams feed off each other. They played well in summer tournaments, Olexiewicz said.

Tyler Smith, a junior who played at RMHS as a freshman before taking last year off, is back in the water.

Nick Galan, a sophomore goalie, is recuperating from a knee injury that could cost him most of this season.

The Scorpions are desperately seeking someone to fill the cage before the Sept. 6 season opener at San Marcos.

“I’m excited to watch these boys develop,” Olexiewicz said. “I’d say I’ve got a special group. I’m excited to see where they go.” MAKING STRIDES—Scorpion Jayson Hensen, left, looks for an open shooting lane while being pestered by Tyler Williams during Wednesday’s workout at Rio Mesa High.

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