Orlando’s Lake Nona High School has become a recent favorite of the central Florida press having qualified for a berth in the state championship tournament for the first time in only its third year of existence. Total Waterpolo caught up with girl’s head coach Alex Bennett on the eve of the FHSAA championships this weekend.
You’ve recently received some decent coverage in the news about your up and coming program. Is this year’s success a surprise or did you expect it?
We have worked very hard over the last several years and 100% of my players and their parents are committed to getting better. We play club year round I have tried to expose them to the best programs and coaches in the country. So I am glad that Lake Nona and water polo in general is getting some nice press.
What kinds of things would have to happen for you to win the championship this year?
We set team goals to have a 20 win season and be a state qualifier. We accomplished that so at this point everything else is icing on the cake. For any team to win a championship in any sport you need to play tremendous defense and everything else needs to align as well. Also having a little luck is always a good thing too.
Do you expect to play teams from outside Florida next season?
I do plan on taking the group to Chicago next season since they also play in the Spring…Every summer we take a two week training trip to California and this summer will be no different. We are headed to Northern California and will participate in tournaments/training matches and team-building activities.
Tell us about your water polo background. Where did you learn the game? What was your coaching path before you took the job at Lake Nona?
I grew up playing water polo in Florida I played for Miami Beach High School 20 years ago.
I then went out to California and played at Long Beach City College for the late Hank Vellenkamp, and played club for Ricardo Azevedo [former US National Team and Long Beach State Head Coach].
Azevedo was a great mentor for me and introduced me to my best friend Johnny Bega who now coaches at San Jose State [women] and Los Altos High School [boys]. Johnny has taught me a lot about the game and I feel is one of the best age group coaches around. He did learn from one of the best.