I swam up until middle school, but when I started high school, it conflicted with the basketball schedule. My sister¹s friend played water polo in high school, and I wanted to play another sport. I tried it and I loved it. I started in the field, and also played backup goalie.
Water polo is very popular in Southern California, and it appears to be growing in other states including Michigan?
Michigan has a state tournament, and there have been several players who have played in Michigan and have done well. That list includes Betty Armstrong, who attended the University of Michigan. She is now the starting goalie on the U.S. Senior National team.
How did you get from the state of Michigan to Cal State Northridge?
I knew that I wanted to play water polo in college, and I knew that I could. I wrote letters to the top 20 schools in the nation. Being on the U.S. Youth National team helped me to get exposure here on the west coast.
Northridge was my last recruiting visit. I loved the team and the coaches. I really liked the area, and I wanted to play in California.
What makes Jillian Stapf one of the top goalkeepers in the country?
Being tall helps. People look at me and think I¹m a two-meter player. Having long arms is a great advantage. Any top goalie in the world is tall. I learned a lot as a freshman last year. It was a great experience. I had a good year, but I have a lot more to learn. Hopefully I¹ll continue to grow.
You also played basketball in high school. Has that helped you in the pool?
If you look at a basketball team and see how they run their offense, water polo is a lot alike. You¹re always anticipating where the ball is going to go.
Because you have played competitive basketball, can you pick a winner in both the NCAA Men¹s and Women¹s Basketball Tournament?
Even though Tennessee¹s best player (Candace Parker) is hurt, I¹m picking the Vols. They play hard. As far as the men¹s tournament, I¹m going with North Carolina.
No doubt, your favorite NBA team is the Detroit Pistons. Why are they going to win the NBA championship this year?
I love the Pistons. Chauncey Billups is my favorite player. The Pistons don¹t have that one standout player like LeBron James or Kobe Bryant, but at the same time they all have equal skills. Coming together as a team is what is going to make them win. It will be a tough road. The Cavs, the Lakers, the Suns, the Celtics are all good teams.
What are your future goals in water polo?
I would love to go to the Olympics in 2012. It would be a great experience. To have achieved that accomplishment would be amazing. School, however, is a #1 priority. I would like to become a chiropractor. It¹s a long road ahead but well worth it.
You have scored a goal in each of the last two seasons as a goalkeeper.
How is that accomplished?
: I would do it quite often in high school at the end of the quarter. I place the ball as best as I can. If it goes in, great!!! I would say 50 percent of it is luck. Any last second goal like that is a great buildup for a team. It could turn around a game.