Sinking wasn’t an Option for Water Polo Player

Goalie, William Feuerborn, attempting to block a shot during the varsity game against Santa Ana High School. Photo taken September 24, 2019.

Courtesy of Joyce Feuerborn

Goalie, William Feuerborn, attempting to block a shot during the varsity game against Santa Ana High School. Photo taken September 24, 2019.

Mario Campos, Staff Writer

William Feuerborn, is a 4x Athlete of the Month, with two school records for the Godinez Water Polo Team. Feuerborn played four years on the team and two years as varsity goalie. Now as swim season starts, Feuerborn doesn’t just want to win but break school records, again. 

In order to understand the swimmer, you have to meet the waterpolo player because without waterpolo, Feuerborn would have never joined Godinez Fundamental High School’s swim team.

Feuerborn’s father, Tom, played high school and college water polo. He played all four years for West Point Military Academy and was goalie from day one. That brought a lot of inspiration and pressure to Feuerborn to not only be good but great.

Joyce Feuerborn, William’s mother believes, “ We did not put pressure on him to be good or the best at anything, but William always told himself he needed to improve and be better.”

Growing up, Feuerborn knew that swimming was very important. At the age of 3, Feuerborn started swim lessons. He joined SoCal Water Polo Club at six-years-old. Feuerborn was constantly improving and his coaches saw potential. But as soon as he was good, he was moved into an older age bracket because of the month he was born.

Joyce said, “He was always the youngest on the team.  I never thought July was a bad month but in polo, it’s the cut off month. So it was a continuous rotation of William getting better, then starting at zero again due to being placed into a higher age group.” 

Courtesy of Joyce Feuerborn
William Feuerborn, 10, clearing the pool after a splash ball game.

Although it seemed like it was a great idea, his teammates didn’t think so. William and his best friend Nathan Boone were often bullied. Boone eventually tired of it and left SoCal.

“I’m a really genuine person, but I have nothing nice to say about that team. That team was a dictatorship,” said Boone.

When Boone left, the bullying got worse for Feuerborn. The love for the sport slowly started to fade, so Feuerborn, heartbroken, called it quits by the end of 6th grade. 

He took some time off and let time heal. In middle school, he played flag football and enjoyed it. But as high school approached, he was encouraged by his family to give water polo another shot. The only issue Feuerborn realized was that his home school, Foothill High School, is where his former SoCal teammates go to school.

Feuerborn’s mother knew William had to go to a different school.

“What do you do when your kid just wants to play?” said Joyce. She gave William the suggestion of attending Godinez. William decided to go and he believes, “It was a great decision.”

After his first season playing for Godinez as a field player, he was asked to change positions. He went into his second year of junior varsity waterpolo as a goalie. 

After that season, Feuerborn decided, “I wasn’t satisfied with my playing.”

He wanted to do more and be more as a goalie. In the middle of his sophomore year, Feuerborn received a call from Boone. Boone told him he joined a new club, Patriots Aquatics, and he really wanted William to join him. Unsure about his feelings due to past experiences, Feuerborn wasn’t sure. But he was hungry to improve so he said, “yes.” 

But it wasn’t easy. Playing at such a high level of competition was rough. Feuerborn’s parents, didn’t hesitate to encourage him and worked more to fund his club seasons. Joyce picked up extra teaching shifts and stayed later at school just to be able to help Feuerborn. His father worked overtime and similarly picked up extra shifts when he could.

“Anything and everything for your kid, to make them happy,” said Joyce.

Courtesy of Joyce Feuerborn
Feuerborn, and friend Nathan Boone, at Los Angeles International Airport, June 28, 2018, on their way to Sibenik, Croatia. They practiced and played for two weeks in tournaments across Croatia as a visiting team.

Feuerborn sacrificed his nights and weekends. Many nights he didn’t get home until 9:30 p.m. and the drive to club practice at Beckman High School wasn’t close either.

Junior year, he struggled to keep up with his grades, team, and club water polo. His mom said, “it was constant driving from 6-9 p.m. during the week and playing in tournaments every other weekend. Anywhere from Riverside to San Diego, he competed with teams all over the west, and Texas.” 

At one point, Feuerborn had the opportunity to visit Croatia, but it was very expensive. Feuerborn’s parents wanted him to go and supported him no matter the price.

“It was pricey, I decided to work for it by house sitting for my neighbors, and mowing lawns for extra money. The trip to Croatia overall made me a better player with more experience,” Feuerborn said.

Feuerborn was really happy with his improvements in Patriot Aquatics but he called it quits for the club in August 2019. His parents are proud of his accomplishments. Feuerborn believes the reason he loves the game so much is because his team, at Godinez or when he play for Patriots, is family. 

“We’re one of the closest and most hardworking teams at school,” said Feuerborn.

Feuerborn’ teammate at Godinez, Wilton Phung, said, “playing with William is a luxury. He’s one of the best our program has ever had and we’re lucky to have played with such an amazing goalie.” Despite his rough days, Feuerborn said, “ it’s all good memories.” 

As swim season starts, Feuerborn is hungry for more records. He has his eyes on breaking the 50m freestyle and the 4x100m freestyle relay.

With this being the start of his final swim season, Feuerborn wants to leave his name in Godinez’s memory. Feuerborn just got accepted to Cal State Maritime and plans to go into the U.S. Coast Guard.

At press time, he is waiting to hear back from Maritime’s water polo team to see if he will play on Maritime’s team next year.