Sports

Bellevue's Stanchi headed to Istanbul with U.S. Youth National water polo team

Marco Stanchi, pictured here during an Olympic Development Program training, is headed to Istanbul with the Cadet National Team - Courtesy photo
Marco Stanchi, pictured here during an Olympic Development Program training, is headed to Istanbul with the Cadet National Team
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Throughout his youth, Marco Stanchi had dreams of achieving glory in the pool.

A rising senior at International School, both of Stanchi's parents were competitive swimmers for the University of Arizona, and he also has two brothers who took to the sport. But if Marco Stanchi someday reaches his dreams of collegiate and international competition in the water, it won't be as a swimmer, but in his adopted passion of water polo.

Stanchi moved one step closer to that goal recently, enduring a nearly year-long selection process to earn one of only 14 spots on the United States Water Polo Youth Men's Team traveling roster.

That selection means not only more time training with the best players his age from around the country, and the inside track to a possible Senior National Team spot down the road. It sends him to Istanbul, Turkey in August for the Federation Internationale De Natation Youth (FINA) World Championships.

"I think it is incredibly inspirational to see someone from our area compete not only nationally, but internationally, at the highest level," Rain City Water Polo and Bellevue High School coach Evan Kaseguma said. "His desire to be the best is unmatched."

That desire has served Stanchi well since he decided to play join the Wolverines' water polo team during the end of his freshman year, with an eye on making the varsity for the defending state champs as a sophomore. The first challenge was simply to make the team.

"I decided to put all my eggs in one basket," Stanchi said. "Water polo is such a team sport, the best teams are those with the highest chemistry."

That desire for team chemistry and a connection through competition was part of what led Stanchi from competitive swimming to water polo, and the driving force behind transferring his passion in the pool.

Stanchi joined Kaseguma and John Jacobson at Rain City Water Polo, and also found himself contributing for Bellevue's dominant high school squad.

"Being a swimmer for all of my childhood, I never really experienced that team aspect," he said. "That's easily my favorite part of this sport."

But Stanchi's time in the pool has been about more than finding a new competitive outlet.

With his background in the pool, and what Kaseguma deemed an exceptional work ethic, Stanchi found himself thriving.

"I've never seen anyone pick up a sport or instruction as fast as Marco," Kaseguma said. "He's the hardest worker I've ever coached."

The work is no where near finished for Stanchi, who will not only have the chance to travel and compete with the U.S. Youth team, but also make a name for himself among the next generation of future US Olympians.

"I really still can't believe it," he said of the selection. "I get to represent my country and it feels good to see where the countless hours of training are going."

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