Jordan Raney helped Team USA capture the gold medal at the Junior Pan American Championships. Photo by Tina Raney
When Manhattan Beach’s Jordan Raney was young, she was the typical elementary and middle school girl playing seasonal soccer, basketball and softball. To break things up, she trained in the sport of karate for eight years, earning a brown belt before entering high school.
But a growth spurt that quickly shot Raney up to 5-foot-10 and the constant pounding of multiple sports began to take a toll and she developed shin splints.
“I needed a low impact sport and my parents suggested water polo,” Raney said. “I had a rough start in 8th grade, trying to build my swimming endurance and getting used to the physicality of water polo. I tried out for the USA Youth Team and got cut real early.”
Jordan Raney takes aim while playing for the Huntington Beach Water Polo Club. Photo by Tina Raney
Undaunted, Raney turned her focus to the pool, playing water polo on club, Team USA and high school teams 11 months of the year.
“I had great coaches and made my first Team USA squad the summer of 2011,” Raney said. “We got Silver at the Pan Am Youth Championships in Puerto Rico.”
Raney’s decision to switch sports – and the perseverance to hang with it – has paid large dividends. She led Mira Costa to the CIF Division 3 championship game as a senior this past spring, earning her the CIF MVP award for the division, a spot on the All-American First Team, and a scholarship to play at Stanford.
During the last three years, Raney has made the USA Team (Cadet 16u, Youth 18u) and has benefited from common training with Canada, Australia and Japan.
In July, Raney was the team’s third-leading scorer recording 13 goals in six games as Team USA (19U) won gold at the Junior Pan American Championships. The 18-year-old also played stellar defense, not yielding a goal while guarding the opposing team’s center.
Two weeks later, the team won bronze at the US Open while competing against the best club, college and national team players in the country.
She has also trained some with the USA Junior (20u) and Senior Teams during the last year while competing for a spot on the USA Youth World Championship Team.
Jordan Raney is all smiles during the National Letter of Intent signing assembly held at Mira Costa in November, 2013. Photo by Tina Raney
Raney’s goal became a reality when she was selected as one of 13 girls out of the 200 attempting to make the roster. Team USA will be one of 16 teams competing at the Youth World Championships in Madrid, Spain Aug. 25-31.
“Being named CIF MVP was a huge unexpected honor and I loved playing for my high school and with my local friends,” Raney said. “Playing for Team USA, however, is second to none — flag on your chest and hand over your heart. The pride I have felt helping Team USA beat Canada, Brazil, Mexico, et cetera has been amazing. Our World Team is great, six of the 13 girls on the team were CIF MVP’s in their section and division. The other seven girls are just as good. Girls on our team will be freshmen at Princeton, Irvine, USC, UCLA and Stanford — the elite water polo schools in America.”
Raney said ten of the 16 teams are contenders win the championship, including host Spain. Team USA finished 4th at the last Youth World Championships held in Perth, Australia in 2012.
The tournament will cap off a busy summer for Raney, who will return and quickly begin a new career as a student-athlete at Stanford.
“My short-term goals include winning Gold at the Youth World Championships, helping Stanford defend their 2014 NCAA Championship next May, and making the USA Junior World Championship Team that will play in Mexico in 2015.”
Raney hopes to eventually make the USA Olympic Team and play professional water polo in Europe or Australia.
While the cerebral Raney hones her athletic skills at the Avery Aquatic Center on the Stanford campus, she plans to carry her heads-up attitude into the classroom.
“I want to study the brain,” Raney said. “I want to know how we tick and how to increase the firepower. The recent movie ‘Lucy’ got me thinking.”