Water polo star lands scholarship to UCLA

While attending a water polo camp at UCLA earlier this summer, Alexa Tielmann instantly fell in love with the campus. She never dreamed she'd have an opportunity to spend four years there.

When she arrives at UCLA in the fall of 2012

When she arrives at UCLA in the fall of 2012

While attending a water polo camp at UCLA earlier this summer, Alexa Tielmann instantly fell in love with the campus.

She never dreamed she’d have an opportunity to spend four years there.

But towards the end of the camp, Tielmann and her mother Leanne were taken on a tour of the Los Angeles university led by a current UCLA water polo player. The last stop was the office of Brandon Brooks, head coach of the Bruins women’s team. When Brooks offered her a scholarship, Tielmann’s jaw nearly hit the floor.

Tielmann, a 17-year-old who is headed into her Grade 12 year at Yale Secondary, has given the Bruins a verbal commitment, and she’ll sign her national letter of intent during the November signing period.

She could hardly have found a better spot to develop her game – the powerhouse UCLA women’s squad has won the NCAA championship seven times in the past 11 years. When she arrives on campus in September 2012, Tielmann will become the first Canadian to play for the Bruins water polo women.

“It means the world to me,” Tielmann enthused. “I’m still kind of surprised by it. I thought UCLA would be a longshot. But apparently it wasn’t, and I’m so excited.”

Tielmann’s ascent should be less surprising to those who have tracked her progress through the national water polo system. Last summer, she represented Canada at U18 tournaments in the Netherlands and Hungary.

This summer, she helped the Canadian U17 squad to a gold medal at the Youth Pan American Games in Puerto Rico. In the championship game, Tielmann’s squad spotted the U.S. a 3-0 lead before roaring back for an 8-7 victory.

As a carded athlete, Tielmann travels to Montreal several times a year to participate in the Canadian Select League – a program where women from all levels of the national team system are organized into five teams and compete in a tournament.

“It helps us get competition during the year, and get to know the older girls on the national team,” explained Tielmann, who learned the sport in the Abbotsford Whalers club program. “I’ve really enjoyed it.

“For now, I’m focusing on preparing for my four years of university. But in the future, I’m hoping to have the chance to play on higher levels with the national team.”