Tanner discusses Stanford stars
Coach Tanner offers insight into the Cardinal team dynamic
Last season, Stanford claimed its consecutive NCAA Championship. What made that win impressive was that it was won with multiple members of the 2012 United States Olympic gold medal team who sat out the season as redshirts. That fact led to the Cardinal being ranked first in the 2013 preseason polls. Stanford currently sits at second in the rankings trailing just behind conference rival USC which defeated the Cardinal at the UCI Invitational.
Stanford is led by head coach John Tanner. Since arriving at Stanford in 1997, Tanner has led the Cardinal to three NCAA Championships. Below, Tanner discusses this year’s squad and its NCAA prospects.
Entering this season, many felt Stanford was an overwhelming favorite with historically great talent as your squad is boasting three U.S. Olympians including the current FINA Women's Player of the Year in Maggie Steffens. Can you tell us about your squad?
"Our program has had Olympians taking a year off and then coming back every Olympic cycle since 2000. It is nothing new for us to have these types of players step out and then come back. I think that is due to the school and its excellence. Stanford often has people take time off to do amazing things and then come back. We love having those three players on our team.”
Can you tell us what makes Steffens the powerful player that she is as well as the adjustment to playing the college game from competing internationally?
“Maggie is fun to be around. She is a wonderful teammate who loves water polo. Maggie is currently making the adjustment from full-time athlete to full-time student and athlete. She is also adjusting to the different rhythm that the college game presents. In the international game, you practice for months and then play in a tournament, whereas in college you are practicing and then playing every weekend.”
Annika Dries also won a Gold Medal for the United States in the 2012 Olympics. What makes her a valuable player?
“Annika is a real complete athlete. She is competitive, focused and strong in front of the goal. Annika is known as a set, however she can be effective anywhere in the pool not just at center.”
Melissa Seidemann is the third of your Olympic trio. Can you tell us a little bit about her style of play?
“Melissa is a compelling leader. She came to us as a set and has moved to more of a defensive role. She is very skillful and understands the game as a whole. Melissa would be a great coach.”