Abbotsford’s Utas joins Canada’s best in the pool

Yale Secondary student ready for 18U water polo worlds

Abbotsford’s Brianna Utas shows off the Pan-Am gold medal she earned earlier this year.

Abbotsford’s Brianna Utas shows off the Pan-Am gold medal she earned earlier this year.

After years of excelling at the local and provincial level, Abbotsford’s Brianna Utas is getting some well-deserved national attention.

Since September, the water polo star has been training in Montreal with the Canadian women’s national water polo program, and in October she made the cut to make the 18U women’s water polo team.

Utas, a Grade 11 student at Yale Secondary, will represent the country at the 18U World Championships event in New Zealand in December.

“It’s going to be huge. I’m really excited about it,” she said. “It’s going to give me an eye-opening of what it’s like at the international level, and it’s going to be a great opportunity.”

For the month of September, Utas participated in approximately 65 practices competing for a spot against some of the brightest young female water polo players in the country. She’s managing to keep her schoolwork up to date with online studies in between the practices.

The sport wasn’t always on her radar, though. Utas played a number of different sports growing up, including softball, basketball, speed skating, volleyball and rugby. But a suggestion from her swimming coach led her to water polo.

“I started summer swimming and saw there was water polo and decided to try out,” she said. “My coach insisted I try because I had the size and athleticism and it started from there. I developed a love for the game; it’s a really interesting sport and very challenging.”

Utas originally suited up for the Fraser Valley Water Polo Club, and her run there was highlighted by a tournament win at the U16 club national championships in Calgary in the summer of 2015. She was the captain of the team, was named the most valuable player at the tournament and scored three goals in the tournament final to lead Fraser Valley to a 14-12 win over the Calgary Renegades.

She also earned a silver at the Youth Pan-Am water polo championships in September of 2015.

This year has seen Utas continue her success in the pool, as she was part of Team Canada’s gold medal win at the Junior Pan-Am Water Polo Games in Edmonton in July. The team finished with a perfect record at the tournament, and defeated the United States to win gold.

“This year has been really great for me,” she said. “The Junior Pan-Am’s was an amazing tournament, and it was the first time that the Canadian women had ever won it. To win that on our home soil was amazing. It was definitely my career highlight so far.”

Utas, who plays the two-metre guard position, said her primary role is to prevent goals.

“I’m checking the person that is right in front of the net and it’s a constant battle of trying to block the person from getting the ball into the hole,” she said. “It can be a struggle at times, but I just love the challenge.”

Following the event in New Zealand, Utas will return to her studies at Yale, and also rejoin her club team at Pacific Storm in Vancouver. She said she wants to continue pursuing the sport, and has big hopes.

“I want to get a scholarship to the United States, but also definitely want to get on that road to the Olympics,” she said. “I want to get my education first, but it would be an honour to play for Canada one day.”

Joining Utas on the Canadian U18 team is 2016 W.J. Mouat grad Emily Aikema, who is a member of the Fraser Valley Water Polo Club. The other B.C. representative is Viktoria Orlova, who is a teammate of Utas on Pacific Storm. Canada squares off in the round robin against Hungary, Mexico and Germany.

For more on the team, visit waterpolo.ca.

Just Posted

FVRD surveyed public opinion on cannabis production and processing in the electoral areas. Odour and distance from residential areas were the top concerns. (Black Press file)
Cannabis production and processing rules being drafted by Fraser Valley Regional District

Data from public opinion survey will be used to guide cannabis-related land use

Robert Nelson, 35, died after being stabbed at a homeless camp in Abbotsford on April 7 of this year.
Mom pleads for information about son’s killing at Abbotsford homeless camp

Robert Nelson, 35, described as ‘man who stood for justice, honour, respect’

Police arrest the suspect in an attempted armed bank robbery on June 2 at the Scotiabank at Gladwin Road and South Fraser Way in Abbotsford. (Photo by Garry Amyot)
Abbotsford bank robbery suspect who was stopped by customers faces more charges

Neil Simpson now faces total of eight charges, up from the initial two

Vancouver Canucks captain Bo Horvat greets fans outside of the Abbotsford Centre prior to the Canucks exhibition game against the Ottawa Senators in 2019. (John Morrow/Abbotsford News)
More jobs posted for Abbotsford AHL team

Five new opportunities accepting applicants, Comets forward Lukas Jasek signs in Finland

Singer Ben Cottrill performs during the 2019 Arty Awards at The Reach Gallery Museum, the last time the event was held in person. Cottrill received the award in the performing arts category. (John Morrow/Abbotsford News)
Nominations now open for 2021 Arty Awards

Annual event hosted by Abbotsford Arts Council, with ceremony Sept. 25

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials watching U.K.’s Delta variant struggles, ‘may need to slow’ plan going forward

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

David and Collet Stephan leave for a break during an appeal hearing in Calgary on Thursday, March 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Appeal Court rejects stay for Alberta couple facing third trial in son’s death

Pair accused in their earlier trials of not seeking medical attention for their son sooner

Highway notices like this come down effective June 14. Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and commercial operation have hit local businesses in every corner of B.C. (B.C. government)
Province-wide travel back on in B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan

Gathering changes include up to 50 people for outdoor events

Calgary Stampeders’ Jerome Messam leaps over a tackle during second half CFL western semifinal football action in Calgary, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
CFL football will be played this summer in Canada

Governors vote unanimously in favour to start the ‘21 campaign on Aug. 5

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read