Sports, Women's Sports, Women's Water Polo

Canadian player Virginia Smith ‘finds her place’ at LBSU

She’s from Vancouver, she was on the Canadian water polo youth national team, she’s currently Long Beach State’s leading scorer and her dad is a Canadian mountie.

She is sophomore utility player Virginia Smith.

For someone who claims to have struggled with introversion upon her move to California, one would not get that sense of Smith by her relaxed and well-mannered tone of voice.

Her smile even gives one the feeling that she might be an easy-going individual. However, come game time she understands the value of intensity.

“When we start a game, we need to be able to come out with more fire, more desire to win,” Smith said. “We always have a really slow start and then we finish big, we usually have to play catch up.”

With 15 points so far on the season, Smith is an important offensive weapon for the 49ers, though she is currently fighting a battle against bicep tendinitis. In a sport that requires constant conditioning, an injured shoulder needs to be closely monitored.

“Before and after every practice I go into the training room,” Smith said. “I get physio[therapy] done, stem, ultrasound, ice, heat. I’m in there a lot; they’re getting to know me very well.”

If it’s slowing her down any, Smith tries not to let it show. There’s work to be done.

“I would really enjoy it if we moved up in rankings quite a bit,” Smith said.

LBSU is currently ranked 21, and with a little more experience under her belt, Smith is better equipped to help the 49ers shrink that number.

Smith earned 25 points during her freshman year. This season she’s already only 10 goals shy of that number after just nine games.

“Last year when I came in I was definitely a lot more shy than I am now,” Smith said. “I kind of found my place on the team last year; I felt more accepted after I found my place.“

Her father got her started in water polo and swimming when she was just 7 years old, but that’s not all he did to help her progress in her water polo career.

Looking for the right university for her, Smith wrote to LBSU’s head coach Gavin Arroyo and assistant coach Liz Grimes. In the letter, Smith included a biography that didn’t just feature an “outstanding student,” and “excellent water polo player,” as Grimes calls her.

Smith wrote about her family, including her father’s occupation as a Canadian mountie. Grimes said that within 24 hours Smith’s father’s occupation became a topic of discussion between her and Arroyo.

“We already knew that water polo and academics was all there,” Grimes said. “But [that was] the one thing that got us chit-chatting more.”

So the weekend before Canada’s youth national team left for the Pan-American games, Grimes went to their training camp in Montreal to watch Smith play.

“It’s one thing to watch some video, but it’s another to watch someone during the flow of a game,” Grimes said. “Seeing how people react to teammates, how they react to bad stuff as well as good stuff.”

After talking with Grimes, Smith decided to come see Long Beach for herself. She was choosing between LBSU and her sister’s alma mater, San Jose State University.

“I by far enjoyed the environment the most here,” Smith said. “The team was very supportive and friendly and welcoming.”

Smith clicked with her teammates, and quickly became a pivotal player. She was the third leading scorer her freshman year, and is currently LBSU’s top scorer along with freshman Annabel Harman, both with 15 goals after so far.

Canadian player Virginia Smith fits in at LBSU ‘like a duck to a flock’“She’s a wonderful part of our team,” Grimes said. “[She] fits right in like a duck to a flock.”

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