Northwood High senior Sanjana Venkatesh has committed to play water polo for UC Santa Barbara.

Northwood water polo star headed to UC Santa Barbara

by Tim Burt

Northwood High senior Sanjana Venkatesh knew four years ago that she wanted to play college water polo. Next year, she will get that chance.

Venkatesh, a goalkeeper, has committed to play water polo for UC Santa Barbara.

“I went up to Santa Barbara and toured the campus with one of the girls on the team, and I talked to the coach and assistant coach, and I made my decision right there; I wanted to go to Santa Barbara,” she says.

Venkatesh attracted the attention of college coaches with her play at Northwood, where she’s been the starting goalkeeper on the water polo team since her freshman season. She earned first team all-league honors and was second team All-CIF Division 4 her freshman and sophomore years. She will lead the Timberwolves when the season begins in November.

“She puts in a lot of extra time and effort during the offseasons through club play, and she has completely earned everything.” – Coach Kyle Kim-E

Venkatesh has been one of the keys to the growth of the program.

“My freshman year, we placed second in the league and made CIF playoffs for the first time in seven years,” she says.

In her sophomore year, the team won its first league title in school history and advanced to the CIF playoffs.

“We went 8-2 in league play,” she says. “I remember when we played Irvine for the league title match and with four seconds left in the game, it was 7-5, and we knew we won it. It just felt amazing because it was the culmination of so much hard work that we put in.”

Venkatesh has capably handled the challenges that go with being a goalkeeper.

 

“I know my role on the team, and I like that I’m able to direct the defense,” she says. “I feel like I’m able to control the game better than if I was a field player.”

Coach Kyle Kim-E has confidence in Venkatesh.

“Since Sanjana’s freshman year, I knew she was going to be a really special player,” he says. “She puts in a lot of extra time and effort during the offseasons through club play, and she has completely earned everything.”