Recognized water polo player reflects on final season with CBU
Riverside, Calif. (April 22, 2022) – Kira O’Donell, a social work graduate student at California Baptist University, is filled with mixed emotions as she finishes up her fifth and final season on the CBU women’s water polo team.
“The reality is barely hitting me, and frankly I am filled with heightened and mixed emotions,” O’Donell said. “I think the biggest part of me preparing for my final round of conference play with this team is just my commitment to focus and energy during each practice.”
O’Donell made history for CBU women's water polo when she became the first player in program history to earn four All-Golden Coast Conference awards on April 19. O'Donell earned All-GCC Second Team recognition. The attacker is also a three-time All-American. In the GCC, O'Donell leads all players with 70 goals this year and has had at least one goal in the last 26 games.
“Complacency does not create champions,” O’Donell said.
“I know that through this team I have been blessed to be surrounded by a large group of girls that will support me unconditionally, work alongside me to achieve a common goal and genuinely desire me to succeed in all aspects of my life,” O’Donell said.
When practices and games came to a halt in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, O’Donell took this time of uncertainty to reflect.
“I had to come to terms with the fact that I had placed my identity as a water polo player higher than most other aspects of myself,” O’Donell said. “COVID forced me to consider the fragileness of my identity as a water polo player as it can be easily taken away, via graduation, injury or even a pandemic. I committed to prioritize my status as a Christian before any fleeting identity or activity because that is the one thing that could not be taken from me.”
O’Donell became more intentional about her thoughts, actions and the people she surrounded herself with to help her reflect on her faith. By modifying her training and routines, she was able to see herself emerge from a water polo player to an athlete.
“I learned that I love to exercise and challenge myself to move and build muscle without the external pressure of daily practice,” O’Donell said. “My self-perceived identity shifted, and I noticed that exercise truly increases my daily productivity and improves my mental health.”
O’Donell discussed that the primary lessons she learned from the pandemic are that nothing in life is guaranteed and that her relationship with God is unchanging.
“I am applying this lesson to my life today by doing all things to the best of my ability to glorify Him,” O’Donell said. “It is my goal for people to see a light in me that can only be from the Lord as I strive to follow His will, utilizing the talents I’ve been given and encouraging others to also join me in this race.”