Piercing CSU East Bay’s Record For Best Water Polo Player

HAIMING JIN / THE PIONEER

Kevin Vera

Claire Pierce is considered one of the best players in CSUEB’s history.

Perth, Australia, is home to Claire Pierce, who is rapidly closing in on being considered one of the best water polo players in CSU East Bay’s sports history.

Entering the second season of her collegiate career, Pierce’s expectations have never been higher. In her first season under head coach Lisa Cooper (also a native of Perth), Pierce collected Western Water Polo Association (WWPA) Newcomer of the year, second team All-WWPA and WWPA All-Freshman Team honors.

Today, Pierce credits her mom for her success, as well as for being one of the most supportive and influential individuals in her life.

“I know it sounds corny, but the biggest influence in my life would have to be my mother,” said Pierce. “She has always supported me in everything I do. She’s always there for me whenever I need it, whether it be for sports, school or anything I’m going through.

“She is also an amazing woman who I greatly admire—she strives to do her best in everything she does, she doesn’t let anything get in her way. Without her I wouldn’t be where I am today,” said Pierce.

The path to her present success began at the age of 12, when Claire joined her first club team, the City Beach Water Polo Club.

“I had a great experience there both in and out of the pool,” said Pierce. “I was lucky to have been coached by some really experienced and talented players, who had a significant impact on my development as a player. I continue to play for them when I am not here at CSUEB playing.”

Upon her arrival at Methodist Ladies College, Pierce created an immediate impact in the athletic department, participating in three different sports throughout her sojourn. Swimming and basketball were two of the teams she was part of—however, it was in basketball where she served as a team captain for three years. Surprisingly, Claire played but two years on the water polo team. However, she did manage to continue playing for City Beach Water Polo for seven years.

With graduation around the corner, Pierce was uncertain about what her future had in store, and whether that future was at home or overseas.

“I honestly had never thought about playing overseas before Lisa contacted me,” said Pierce. “She asked if I would be interested in coming over here and playing. I thought it sounded like an excellent opportunity, both for my water polo and academically, and before I knew it I was on a plane over.”

Thus the Pierce era at CSUEB began.

The freshman led all NCAA divisions (nationally) with 90 goals on the season. Not only did she excel in the pool, but also maintained a 4.0 GPA throughout her successful first year, earning her WWPA All-Academic and Association of Collegiate Water Polo Coaches (ACWPC) All-Academic honors.

“I feel that being here has allowed me to not only grow as a player but also as an individual,” said Pierece. “Being away from home has, in a way, forced me to be more responsible and independent.”

The level of maturity and leadership Pierce demonstrates both in and out of the pool accentuates the kind of qualities Lisa Cooper instills in her players and the foundation on which this team is built upon.

“Lisa has been really helpful in showing me what my priorities should be, as well as helping me figure out exactly what I should be focusing on both in water polo and out,” Pierce said.

As a quintessential student-athlete, Pierce, above many things, demonstrates the utmost respect for her coaches and teammates, exemplifying the charismatic characteristics a leader necessitates.

“I absolutely adore all my teammates—they are my family away from home,” Pierce said.

“Everyone on the team is supportive of one another not only in the pool, but also out. Many of us are almost inseparable—we see each other almost every minute of every day.”

Claire Pierce has proven her leadership and exemplary qualities are the product of a prodigious amount of effort she devoted as an independent and responsible individual. The aesthetic pleasure her leaders, teammates and coaches see when they picture a successful student like Pierce resonates throughout the campus in appreciation of the contributions made by an ideal student-athlete.

“I personally plan on contributing to the team by being there and doing whatever is needed for our success,” Pierce said.