Colorado Springs, CO—After playing key roles in the rise of the U.S. women’s water polo team in 2000, sharpshooters Brenda Villa and Coralie Simmons were named as the 2000 United Airlines/U.S. Water Polo’s female co-Players of the Year. Both will be honored, along with male recipients Chris Oeding and Wolf Wigo, at the USWP Awards Luncheon in January.
Both athletes played critical parts in the team’s rise from last-minute qualifiers for the Olympics to silver medal status in September.
Villa and Simmons tuned up for the Olympics with shining performances at the Holiday Cup in July, guiding the U.S. to a squeaky clean, undefeated,
first-place finish. Villa’s 10-goal eruption was only outdone by Simmons, whose 13 goals netted her Most Valuable Offensive Player honors.
At this year’s Olympic Games, Villa supplanted Simmons as the team’s top offensive producer, scoring nine goals to Simmons’ eight, including four against Kazakhstan. And when it was all over, the U.S. women had secured their spot in the history books as the sport’s first-ever silver medallist.
“It’s nice having two players on the team that are such weapons,” said head coach Guy Baker. “Opponents had it rough because they may be able to stop one of them, but they could never shut them both down.”
And what’s more, is that at 23 and 20, respectively, Simmons and Villa are just getting their feet wet in their careers.
“This comes as a big surprise,” said Villa. “We’re on a team where everyone comes from somewhere that they were a superstar. So this is a big honor.”
An added bonus for both athletes, who are also good friends, is sharing the honor with each other.
“I am honored to receive this award and especially with teammate, Brenda Villa,” said Simmons. “She is an awesome teammate, player, and friend and I am glad we have many more years together!”