Sharks girls water polo’s Sturges signs with Ventura College 

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Malibu High girls water polo player Stevie Sturges is shown in action during a Sharks game earlier this season. Sturges has committed to play water polo at Ventura College after she graduates from MHS. Photos by McKenzie Jackson.

‘Defensive-oriented’ player has helped Malibu High to an 11-4 record so far this season 

When Stevie Sturges first played sports as a kid she wasn’t a huge fan of athletic pursuits.

“My family put me into every sport when I was young, like soccer and T-ball,” Sturges recalled. “I really didn’t like them.”

That changed when she began swimming. She fell in love with being in the water. Then, when she watched her older brother, Ryder Sturges, a 2017 Malibu High graduate, hit the pool for the school’s boys water polo team, Sturges adorned a water polo cap and dove head first into the sport as well. She was hooked thanks to her coaches and friends in the pool.

“Honestly, my teammates are my favorite part of the sport,” she said. “Even if we have a really hard loss, my teammates and I are having fun on the bus ride home — blasting music and singing. I love the aspect of being part of a team. Plus, I am a water person.” 

Seven years later, Sturges is a standout senior defender and team captain for the Malibu High Sharks girls water polo squad. Two weeks ago, she committed to play college water polo for the Ventura College women’s water polo team. 

Sturges said signing with Pirates, who finished their 2023 season with 21-11 record, was an easy decision.

“I wanted to go to a college that was close to home and Ventura’s team is a very good team with great coaches,” she said. “That was the team I was really shooting to go to.” 

Malibu head coach Hayden Goldberg called Sturges the Sharks’ “momma duck.” 

“She is our leader and will always put herself in those physical situations to help her team,” said Goldberg, who also coaches youth water sports. “It has been an honor coaching her since splashball. I have watched her go from a kid to a young girl to a young lady.” 

Sturges describes herself as an aggressive water polo player, who knows the game and disdains opponents beating her to potential scoring positions aimed at the Sharks’ goal. 

“I’m very defensive-oriented,” she said. “It’s almost bad. I’m so quick to get back on defense that I don’t play as much offense as I should. My biggest nightmare is someone to leave me behind on a counterattack, and me not being able to get back on defense.” 

Sturges admitted she has worked at being more of a scoring threat for Malibu this season. In college, the future Pirate wants to be an outstanding teammate. 

“Someone that is not only a good teammate during the games but out of the games,” Sturges stated. “I want to support my future teammates; make sure everyone is enjoying the sport as much as they should. I want to be a good person in the program.”

Sturges helped Malibu gain a 10-9 win over Thousand Oaks and a 12-2 victory over Beverly Hills two weeks ago. 

“She was our game MVP,” Goldberg wrote in a text message about Sturges after the Sharks beat Beverly Hills. “She is a monster!”

Malibu has an 11-4 record. The squad has grabbed wins over teams such as Oxnard, Marymount, Calabasas, Chaffey, Santa Paula, and Moorpark. Some of the wins happened during the squad’s run of the Coyote Cup Tournament championship at Calabasas High last month.

The team’s biggest wins this season have been over Thousand Oaks and Calabasas, Sturges noted.

“We have a really good team, and we are all growing,” Sturges said. “It has been really impressive to watch my teammates improve.”

The Sharks next match is Jan. 11 at home against Villanova Prep, a Tri-Valley League opponent. 

After the Sharks water polo program’s alumni game last month, Sturges and her teammates said they were looking forward to playing Villanova Prep, a group that has beaten Malibu several times in recent years. The girls said in order to be successful in the Tri-Valley League they have to play like they did during the Coyote Cup. 

Malibu finished last season second in the Tri-Valley League standings and qualified for the CIF Southern Section Girls Water Polo Championships in Division 4. The Sharks were defeated by Palos Verdes 9-3 in the opening round. 

Sturges and her teammates are shooting for loftier goals. 

“We want to have a league championship,” she explained. “We want to be undefeated in league. We want to get as far in CIF that we can. We are not a negative team or a team that gives up. We are going to fight to the very end.”

Goldberg said Sturges is an awesome player to coach.

“She makes others feel welcomed at practice and feel protected in the games,” he said.