Profile: Freshmen waterpolo player Nelson Perla-Ward

Sphir Frozenfar, Staff Writer

Every year a new group of young athletes walk into Palo Alto High School, aspiring to prove their athletic talent in tryouts for various Paly teams.  Fresh out of Jordan Middle School, Nelson Perla-Ward (16’) is one of those kids.  He stepped  into high school and has already become the new addition to the Boys Varsity Water Polo team.

Maturity and confidence seem to be strong qualities of Perla-Ward’s, who does not allow his young age to discourage him from devoting himself day in and day out to his team.

“Well they pretty much treat me like I’m their age so its kinda nice,” said Perla-Ward. “I mean every once in a while its like ‘oh your the freshman’, but mostly I pretty much know everyone on the team now, and were close so were all pretty much friends.”

However, Nelson is not the only one of the Perla-Ward family to pursue his passion of water polo.

“My older brother and younger brother play too. I play on varsity with my older brother, Nolan. My younger brother plays for the Stanford Club team, hes gonna be a seventh grader this year,” says Perla-Ward. “So were pretty much a water polo family.”

Perla-Ward discovered his passion for playing water polo after his loss of interest in other sports he played previously.

“I used to play land sports when I was little like basketball and football. Then I had an injury on my heel so I started swimming, and that got a little bit boring so I tried water polo in fourth grade, and I’ve played pretty much ever since. I dont know its been a lot of fun so i just kept to it.”

Although getting on the varsity team in the first place was already a challenge, Perla-Ward realizes the additional obstacles he must overcome this season, and that it is not going to be an easy ride from here on out.

“ I play set, so I think the hardest part will be the big defenders,” said Perla-Ward. “My size will be the biggest challenge, because on varsity everyone just gets a lot bigger.”

In addition to the hard work that Perla-Ward is investing, he also looks forward to particular matches that he will play in during the season.

“I really want to play Gunn and Los Altos,” Perla-Ward said. “I’m looking forward to those games because I have a friend there who is also a freshman on varsity, and I heard Los Altos was pretty good.”

Perla-Ward’s potential success this fall is boosted by his welcoming teammates, who have provided him with the guidance and direction that he needs.

“It’s nice to look up to all the players [here], like pretty much all my peers that are above me, like Aaron Zelinger (12’),” Perla-Ward said.  “They motivate me to try really hard and they just tell me to put my best effort and usually the outcome is pretty good.”

Despite the grueling early morning practices and hours of treading water,  Perla-Ward is enthusiastic about joining the varsity squad.

“I think its pretty nice to say that I am on the varsity water polo team to all my friends..and girls,” Perla-Ward said.