Interviewing water polo sensation Max Abravanel

Rachel Gima, Sports Editor

Max Abravanel is a Northwood alumni from the Class of 2020 who was a significant figure in the school’s athletics program as a water polo player, which advanced to the CIF. He also was a member of the National Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association (NISCA) All American water polo’s third team, a group of the most coveted athletes from across the nation.

Locally, Abravanel was a first team all California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) recipient and competed at the highest levels in Southern California high school water polo. As a co-captain of the Northwood team, Abravanel led the Timberwolves all the way to the CIF-SS semi-finals, where the team unfortunately fell short in a hard-fought game that went down to the wire. Although the implementation of Northwood athletics is uncertain this year, the heart of the program still remains, and Abravanel has agreed to speak about the program and offer advice to current students.

The Howler: How many years have you played water polo, and how long did you play for Northwood?

Max Abravanel: I’ve been playing water polo since I was 9 years old, so the past nine years have been dedicated to water polo. I was a starter on the Northwood varsity team for all four years of high school.

TH: What did you enjoy most and what did you enjoy least about water polo?

MA: The thing I enjoyed the most about water polo at Northwood was the friends and connections that I made. Of the people that I consider my closest friends, I met most of them through the water polo program. As for the thing I enjoyed the least about water polo was obviously the conditioning and commitment that it requires. But in the end, going through tough conditioning sets and long, grueling tournaments is what really brought our teams closer together. By keeping an open mind and a positive attitude during those challenging times, I think it can really enforce a work ethic and makes every victory that much more worthwhile.

TH: In your opinion, how do you believe that you got into a college-level team?

MA: I got onto a collegiate team by dedicating a lot of time and hard work to the sport that I love. Day in and day out, every set was done with a purpose. And, of course, having some natural talent didn’t hurt. I think by having a goal to play on a college-level team really pushed me through the tough times.

TH: What are your plans for the future, in terms of athletics and academics?

MA: This year I will be playing water polo at the University of California, San Diego, and studying probability and statistics. As far as careers go, I don’t have my eyes set on a single career path, and I think it’s best to keep my mind and options open to what life brings my way.

TH: What are some things that you wish you did in high school that would’ve been fun and/or helped you later on?

MA: I wish I went to more school events. For example, attending events like dances, athletic competitions and club events would have provided some much-needed leisure in my high school career. I didn’t have a ton of extra time on my hands but I definitely could’ve found some time to do more things like that. High school is the time to make memories as well as focus on priorities, so I would advise underclassmen to get involved in the school’s culture.

TH: What are some things you regret doing/not doing as a high school athlete?

MA: As an athlete, I regret not being a better leader and role model for my teammates and peers.

TH: Why is leadership so important in athletics and team sports?

MA: Athletics and team sports are one of the few ways people our age can practice and refine their leadership skills, which is essential to each individual in their own way. Every team needs someone to vocalize plays and communicate coverages that our opponents may be running. Outside of the pool, coordinating times for team bonding and practice schedules allows for the season to run smoothly. If a team wants to win, it needs to have a good leader, and that is an unspoken rule of team athletics.

TH: What advice do you have for current student-athletes at Northwood?

MA: No matter what level of athletics you may be in (varsity, JV, frosh), make sure that you’re having fun and making new friends. As much as I love actually playing water polo, all my best memories in high school athletics happened outside the pool. Aspects of sports like bus rides, tournaments, team dinners really allowed to make friends for life. They can be the best moments of your high school career if you surround yourself with the right people.