Mary Brooks didn't set out to become the most prolific player in the history of the Central Section's most storied girls water polo program.
But that's exactly what Brooks did during four spectacular seasons at Clovis West High, which has reached 17 consecutive Division I finals and won 11 titles, more than any other team in the section.
The UC Irvine-bound senior broke all of the Golden Eagles' major career records for field players with 415 goals, 319 steals, 295 ejections drawn and 181 assists. She is The Bee's Player of the Year for the second straight season after leading Clovis West to a 25-6 record with a Tri-River Athletic Conference title and D-I runner-up finish.
"I never thought: 'OK, I'm going to score a lot to break records,' " said Brooks, who had 119 goals, 85 steals, 75 ejections drawn and 53 assists during her senior season. "I just play and do the best I can for the sake of the team.
"It's not the records I'm proud of -- it's the team. I've loved my team every single year. Every single one of the girls has helped me get where I am now."
Clovis West coach Scott Torosian knew he was getting a great player when Brooks arrived four years ago with a family pedigree -- mom, the former Jenny Hohne, was the MVP for a national championship team at UC San Diego; dad, Matt, a Clovis West aquatics coach; and brother, also named Matt, a former Bee All-Star for the Golden Eagles -- and budding national experience.
What Torosian didn't know was the affect Brooks would have on the rest of the Golden Eagles. But with humble leadership qualities, she powered the program to a 96-29 record with two TRAC titles, one section crown and three runner-up finishes during her four seasons.
"She's been above and beyond the player I expected her to become, and done it in a way that's been amazing," Torosian said. "You would never know she's the best player on the team because she's just one of the girls. She's like the point guard or the quarterback, she's the all-around leader girls want to follow. She sets the example from the very beginning of practice to the end, from the very beginning of games to the end."
Brooks, also a three-time Bee All-Star in swimming, started playing water polo at age 8 and became a member of the U.S. Olympic Development Program at 14. She's played internationally in youth tournaments for the U.S. and trains year-round with a clear goal: becoming the first from the Fresno area to play for the U.S. Women's National Team.
Brooks will be aided in that pursuit over the next four years by Dan Klatt, the former Clovis West star and U.S. Olympian. Klatt is the coach at UC Irvine -- and he also happens to head the U.S. Junior National team and is also an assistant with the full national team.
"I've loved water polo ever since I started playing," Brooks said. "There's never been a moment where I wished I didn't play, and I'm glad I have many more years to come playing.
"I'm very excited to go play college water polo for Dan Klatt. He's a great coach. I want to see how far I can go. I want to go as far as my ability will take me."
Girls Water Polo Player of the Year Mary Brooks
• School: Clovis West
• Grade: Senior
• Qualifications: At the school that has set the standard for excellence in girls water polo with 17 consecutive Central Section finals appearances and 11 titles, Brooks became the Golden Eagles' most decorated player by setting school career records in goals (415), steals (319), ejections drawn (295) and assists (181) during her four seasons. The UC Irvine-bound Brooks had 119 goals, 85 steals, 75 ejections drawn and 53 assists as a senior while leading Clovis West to a 25-6 record with a Tri-River Athletic Conference title and Division I runner-up finish. Was All-Valley co-MVP of the D-I tournament despite the Golden Eagles' 6-5 loss to Clovis in the final.
• Coach says: "She has a competitiveness and a knack for wanting to score the goal. And if it's not her, she's going to put her teammates in the best position to score. When we absolutely need a goal, she will score. But she looks to get her teammates involved in the game. She always got them involved because she didn't want it to be the Mary Brooks show, but the Clovis West water polo team playing to win games." -- Clovis West's Scott Torosian
The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6103, firstname.lastname@example.org or @NickG_FB on Twitter.