Meet James Gess

James is 12 years old, and he and his family have been Lido Isle residents for almost 12 years now! James is in the 6th grade and attends Newport Elementary (Best on the Beach), and plays water polo in the attacker position. James has been playing water polo since he was 8 years old! James typically practices at Newport Harbor High School with his team, which quite impressively is the top 12U team. Over these past four years, one coach who has guided James the most with his game is Coach Marco (James’s 12U water polo coach). Not only has Coach Marco been his most influential coach, but James also considers him his idol.
With some good fortune, James had the opportunity to meet Kaleigh Gilchrist, who is a Newport Harbor graduate and played on the U.S. Water Polo Olympic Team. James usually stays local for water polo, but he has had the chance to travel to Utah, San Diego, and Northern California, where he competed in the Water Polo Junior Olympics. Last year, James’ team participated in multiple leagues and tournaments throughout the year, including the Junior Olympics, where his team placed 5th. This year his team is already performing better than last. James’ team is a winning team! They constantly place in the top three of their league in every tournament. Whilst learning how to become a talented water polo player, James has learned the value of teamwork and commitment.
There is much to love about the sport of water polo; one of James’ favorite things about the sport is competing at the high level. He loves the fast pace of the games and how they challenge him. His favorite water polo memory was beating the Patriots 10U team in the Junior Olympic tournament. His team ended up taking first place in the qualifiers after that. Furthermore, not only did they get first place, but they got first place in the hardest-ranked region in the entire United States!
Without a doubt, James has big dreams! Although James is young and unsure of what he wants to do exactly after school, he does plan on attending college and, if given the opportunity, playing water polo at the collegiate level. Advice James would give for people getting into water polo is to always listen and respect your coaches because they know what they are talking about. Play hard, James!