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High Schools | Eric Sondheimer

Clark Takes Servite to New Heights

September 29, 2002|Eric Sondheimer

Trevor Clark is so tall that water polo teammates at Anaheim Servite High call him "Lurch" after the monster-like character from the 1960s television series, "The Addams Family." They tell him he's going to attend the fictional Lurch State University.

At 6 feet 7 1/2 and 205 pounds, Clark, walking across a pool deck, draws stares from people who see him for the first time because it's rare to find someone with his height playing water polo.

Clark has run into only one player close to his size, and that was a 6-9 Russian teenager this summer.

High school athletes 6-7 or taller usually end up playing basketball, volleyball or football.

But Clark's sports future was influenced at an early age by his mother, Suzette, a swim instructor and coach. Clark started swimming when he was 5. He tried other sports but always enjoyed the competition in the pool. When he arrived at Servite as a freshman, Coach Jim Sprague taught him water polo.

Between his freshman and junior years, he grew from 6-1 to 6-7.

"It's definitely an advantage," Clark said of his height.

This summer, Clark developed into one of the top college prospects in the nation. He started for the U.S. junior national team that earned a silver medal at the Junior Pan American Games in Boca Raton, Fla.

His size and potential helped get him selected for the team, but steady improvement proved he deserved a spot.

"I was the youngest on the junior team, so at the beginning, I had a confidence problem that I couldn't play with these guys," he said. "But as the summer panned out, I was just as good. I could go the whole 28 minutes if I needed to. I have 200% more confidence than I did before."

Similar to a tall center in basketball who's expected to excel, Clark said he is dealing with the high expectations to be "this god in the water."

But Clark wasn't even the first- or second-best player on his Servite team last season, when he scored 74 goals and was a two-meter defender. The Friars were upset by Anaheim Esperanza in the Division II quarterfinals, leaving him frustrated and angry.

"I decided to make it my life journey to make sure it didn't happen again," he said.

He started training for his senior year without taking any break, jumping into the pool two days after the Esperanza defeat.

"I didn't want to stop," he said. "I wanted to keep going. I wanted it to be a continual process and see where it led me."

He turned 17 on Sept. 3 and was featured as Sports Illustrated's Old Spice Athlete of the Month for August.

Clark could end up causing as many headaches for coaches trying to devise a strategy to defend him as a 7-footer does in basketball. He has been moved to the two-meter man position, where he's stationed in front of the goal. Deflecting his shots is not easy.

"One person isn't going to stop Trevor," Sprague said. "He's too big."

All of the nation's top collegiate water polo programs have expressed interest in Clark, who says USC, California and UCLA are the leaders in the recruiting competition.

When he's not in a pool or at school, he probably can be found shaping surfboards in his garage.

And he's still growing.

"I think I'll top out at 6-9," he said.

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Eric Sondheimer can be reached at eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

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