Ruby Hodge Breaks to Nationals in the Olympic Development Program for Girls Water Polo


Riley Goodfellow

Ruby Hodge (10) stands in front of the SJHHS pool where she played last season and contributed to the Girls Water Polo League Champions title. She wears a shirt she got while playing in Barcelona, Spain for the United States national team. She is ranked within the top 14 water polo players of her age.

Emily Wale, Staff Writer

Ruby Hodge, a sophomore, traveled to Spain after achieving a spot on the girls national water polo team in the Olympic Development Program (ODP). 

At the initial state tryout, 250 girls from the same age bracket within Southern Orange County competed against one another. The remaining 50 moved on to nationals to go against fiercer opposition. This count was then whittled down to the 14 best players within the program, Ruby Hodge being one of the talented few to secure a position on the ODP team. 

“Coming from a smaller team, from a smaller school, and then going to that level [nationally] was a great opportunity,” said Hodge. 

With her team, Ruby flew to Spain to compete against their national team, many of which girls who were either in or out of college. “It was a really big opportunity for me to play against a higher level and intensity team, allowing me and my team to use all of our knowledge and strength to play against them and become better within our water polo experience,” said Hodge.

They had more experience than us, but this didn’t stop us from trying our hardest

— Ruby Hodge

“Difficult at first, but in the end it was a very good experience for me as I still have so much to learn, but I learned a lot through that process specifically,” said Hodge.

Ruby Hodge has been honing her skills for four years, and now she trains year round. She describes her average routine to include 4-6 practice days a week, swimming for both her school and club team. However, her summer season consists of the most intense training as she prepares for the Junior Olympics, training 5-6 hours a day, six days a week.

When Ruby made the national team, the training only intensified. “There were certain weekends dedicated entirely to training as a team, and establishing a stronger bond,” said Hodge. 

She and her team would practice around 8 hours a day, having a four hour practice in the morning and a four hour practice in the afternoon. They stayed in college dorms so that they could wake up early and in a timely manner for practice and go to bed late after practice concluded. 

“Everything we did, we did as a team, and it allowed me to create bonds with girls that I can never break,” said Hodge.

 “It’s a tough process, but you have to make sure your mind’s in a good spot and you can’t be doubtful. In the end, you’ll be okay and the bonds and support made with the other girls on the team are super helpful and supportive. We’re all going through the same thing and you learn you’re not alone in the process,” said Hodge.