Development Zone®


PCA Resource Center

Girls Playing On Boys Teams

Share This Resource

Four-time Olympic Water Polo Medalist, Brenda Villa (@brenda4villa) is a PCA National Advisory Board Member. Villa spent her collegiate career at Stanford University, where she arrived as the nation’s top recruit, and graduated as a three-time All-America. She was named the Division I Water Polo Player of the Year, as well as winner of the Peter J. Cutino Award as the top female college water polo player in the United States and earned a Gold Medal at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

Villa had the unique experience of growing up playing water polo on a boy’s team. She did this because there was no girl’s team, but she loved the sport and wanted to compete. As she shares in this video, she broke down gender barriers by focusing on playing hard. Instead of making a big deal about being a girl, she just showed the boys she could play and this normalized the situation.

Villa also attributes some of her success at the international level to this experience. She wasn’t the biggest or the strongest player growing up, so she had to find other ways to succeed in the water. When she began competing at the international and Olympic levels, her small stature wasn’t a problem because she already had experience adjusting to bigger, stronger opponents.