Azevedo Family Eager to Grow Water Polo Through 6-8 Academy

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Azevedo Family Eager to Grow Water Polo Through 6-8 Academy

On the daily, the father and son duo of Ricardo Azevedo and Tony Azevedo can be found on the pool deck at the Los Caballeros Sports Village in Fountain Valley, California. Together, they coach a group of 24 athletes, assisting them in achieving their water polo goals.

Tony Azevedo boasts an athletic career that is difficult to rival. Attending five Olympics, the first in 2000 and Rio de Janeiro in 2016 his last, he has a silver medal to his name. A product of Stanford University, he is one of the Cardinal’s greatest players. He grew up in Long Beach, where he still resides today, raising his two kids alongside his wife.

Known not only as Tony’s father, but as one of the most decorated water polo coaches in the United States, Ricardo Azevedo was born in Brazil. There, he played for many years and then transitioned to coaching in the States. Ricardo has coached in many countries and remains a presence on the international scene.

Growing the Sport

Ricardo Azevedo

Ricardo Azevedo

A desire to further the sport and share the expertise of the Azevedo name drove Tony to found 6-8 Sports. This company helps develop athletes around the world. Though he hosts many events, Tony takes much pride in one specific aspect of his work: The 6-8 Elite Academy. Enlisting his dad, known by the athletes as Rico, and assisted by his business partner and captain of the U.S. Women’s Water Polo Olympic team, Maggie Steffens, the coaching staff formed.

The schedule of the program looks like this: Three mornings a week, athletes do high intensity weight training workouts and on off days practice their mental training. Then, they attend a two hour pool training tailored to fit their individual strengths and weaknesses. In the evenings, it is optional to attend a local club practice. On weekends, games or extra training sessions are added. Athletes choose to live on campus with meals provided, or they can commute. During the school year, different approaches are taken in regards to academics.

Why the Academy Was Launched

Seeing a need for opportunities, intensity, and development, the Academy is built on trust, accountability, and determination. Sharing his story, Tony articulated how he “saw so many talented athletes that with the right program or training could achieve their dreams, but instead they were stopping way short.”

The Answers

In an interview with Tony and Rico, they provided answers to several questions.

What was the initial vision was for the academy?

“The vision for the 6-8 Academy has always been about giving kids the opportunity to be the best players that they can be,” Tony said. “I want that kid from the middle of nowhere that dreams of playing in college or on Team USA to come to our program and achieve those dreams.”

Said Rico: “The thought was to create an environment where a player works on developing individually, by concentrating on fundamentals, mental training and an approach of positivity and hard work.”

Explaining the three values of trust, accountability, and determination, Tony assessed his program’s approach.

“How can I trust that you are working your hardest or telling me the truth? Are you willing to put in the hard work on a daily basis and go above and beyond every day? Do you think every day about how there is someone working harder and are you determined to surpass that person?”

Forward Focused

Coming a long way since its first days, Tony expressed his excitement with how the Academy has developed. It debuted as a small group of five girls who came together due to different circumstances. A year later, the Academy hosts 28 athletes for the summer. Rico commented: “We are making great strides to the future, the training going well.”

According to Tony, the selection process for admission focuses “less on level or talent and more on your determination to take advantage of every opportunity. We want athletes who are going to give 100% regardless of their ultimate goals or circumstances. We want kids that have motivation, determination to work hard, and want to get better. That makes the environment positive, competitive, and allows everyone to feed off the communal energy. ”

Tony described his vision for the future, stating: “The ultimate goal would be to have multiple 6-8 academies around the world. That way we could  interchange athletes and provide valuable international experience as well.”

Contributing a different perspective, Rico shared how most of the athletes who earn spots on the Junior and Senior National Team rosters are from the same areas in California on a consistent basis. He wants that to change.

“Our goal is to continue to learn and grow, and make water polo well known in the future, by helping and facilitating players from outside California or from smaller programs to compete,” Rico said.

Tony Azevedo summarized his passion for the game, and reason for forging ahead with the Academy: “…what ultimately keeps me going is the opportunity to constantly give back to our sport and see athletes succeed in and out of the water.”

2 comments

  1. avatar
    Marlow

    Check out aMAYa excelling both in and out of the water!!!

    • avatar
      rhys

      yeahh go amaya