Alex Musselman loves to read.
In an era of ever-shrinking attention spans, the Corona del Mar High junior still can't resist the pull of a good book. The "Harry Potter" series is one of her favorites.
"I read huge books," Musselman said. "It's weird. No one likes to read anymore, but I love it. l find books in my house and I'll just read them."
Opposing coaches don't necessarily have to read up on Musselman, who recently finished her second year as starting goalie for the CdM girls' water polo team. They're more likely to watch tape on Musselman, reading between the lines and looking for weaknesses, not that there's too many of those.
This year she carved out a reputation as perhaps the best goalie in high school. Whether it was her pinpoint passes to spark the CdM counterattack or her season-high 18 saves in the CIF Southern Section Division I semifinals, Musselman came into her own. Every time your head turned, she was making another play.
For her talents in the cage, she is the Daily Pilot Dream Team Player of the Year for the Newport-Mesa area.
Though she has another year left in high school, nobody could deny Musselman's talent as a special goalie. Want proof? Musselman was one of just two goalies voted to the All-CIF Southern Section Division I first team, the other being Santa Barbara sophomore Maddie Trabucco.
Musselman, who stands six-feet tall, helped a relatively young CdM team reach significant heights. The Sea Kings won the Pacific Coast League and reached the CIF semifinals, both for the 12th straight year.
CdM Coach Sam Bailey has said the goalie is the most important position in water polo. Musselman is following a long line of standout goalies for CdM like current assistant coach Brittany Fullen, Tumua Anae, Kate Murphy and Kate Baldoni.
Musselman has worked on her passing. One of the ways involves another goalie holding a hula hoop on the opposite end of the pool, with Musselman trying to pass the ball through the hoop.
Bailey said it's a combination of Musselman's natural talent and work ethic that make her a special player. He said he's talked to a couple of college coaches, and Musselman passes better than any high school goalie they've seen in quite a few years.
"And she's very coachable," Bailey said. "She does a great job of listening."
Musselman made 331 saves this year for the Sea Kings. She may not have read quite as many books, but that's OK.
She helped author a special season for the Sea Kings.
Here's a look at the 10 other Newport-Mesa girls' water polo players who join Musselman on this year's Dream Team:
Corona del Mar
The junior center came on strong late in the season for the Sea Kings, earning all-tournament team honors at the Irvine Southern California Championships.
Murphy, a first-team All-Pacific Coast League selection, was second on CdM in both goals (61) and steals (35). A second-team All-CIF Southern Section Division I selection, she also was one of the Sea Kings' better defenders.