Just five days after the season ended for his Corona del Mar High boys' water polo team, senior Reid Chase was on a plane for Singapore.
Chase headed overseas for training, prior to the inaugural FINA Youth World Championships in Perth, Australia. When he arrived down under, he discovered that he would be trying something new at the tournament for Team USA, coached by former Newport Harbor head man Jason Lynch.
Lynch had Chase guarding at two meters, something he rarely did in high school.
"The two-meter men I was playing against were just massively big," said Chase, who helped the U.S. finish eighth in the tournament. "The level of play up there was a lot different, and I feel like I became a much better player up there and more experienced. This is like the first time I've ever played two-meter guard. I had to adapt to it, but I picked it up pretty quickly."
Versatility always was a strength for Chase, the 2012 Newport-Mesa Dream Team Player of the Year. In many ways he stepped up for the Sea Kings (23-7), helping them win the Pacific Coast League and advance to the CIF Southern Section Division 1 semifinals.
Chase, the league MVP and a first-team All-CIF Division 1 selection, led CdM with 84 goals and also contributed 31 assists and 36 steals.
"You could count on him," CdM Coach Barry O'Dea said. "He was going to come through. He came through for us in the biggest occasions, not only on the scoreboard. He was a guy who could put up goals, played great defense, counterattacked. He embraced the role — he really wanted to be that guy."
Chase, a repeat Dream Team honoree, is the cousin of 2011 Newport-Mesa girls' Player of the Year Alex Musselman, a goalie who is now at UCLA. He was one of four team captains for the Sea Kings boys, and definitely a leader.
He showed a sign of things to come over the summer, when he was tournament MVP as CdM captured the Pan Pacific tournament in New Zealand. He also helped CdM win an in-season tournament, the FINIS Memorial Cup in San Jose.
And, when the Sea Kings needed him most, he delivered one of his best games of the season. Chase had a game-high four goals and three steals as the Sea Kings rallied to stun rival Newport Harbor, 7-6, in a Division 1 quarterfinal on Nov. 10.
After the match, O'Dea called Chase the best player in the pool. Few who saw the match would argue. He scored in a variety of ways, including a quick lob shot from the left in the first half. Newport Coach Robert Lynn said the shot, which fooled his goalkeeper, was key in the Sea Kings' comeback.
Chase said that quarterfinal match was particularly rewarding for a CdM team on which only one player was not a senior.
"We felt that we had come together toward the end of the season," Chase said. "We knew we were going to have to give it all, and see what happened. The quarterfinal game was probably the highlight of my high school water polo career. I enjoyed that game so much. Winning with my team and having that crowd there was pretty spectacular."
O'Dea said Chase, who has a 4.3 grade-point average, is being looked at by a number of colleges. Chase said he has an official visit scheduled to Stanford in late January.
Whatever college at which he lands will get a hard-working kid who continually strives to be better.
"In four years the kid never complained, never missed a practice," O'Dea said. "He's all about being a good teammate and being a leader."
Here's a look at the rest of the 12-player Newport-Mesa Dream Team:
The senior defender rarely gave up a goal at two meters, earning a reputation as one of the best set guards in the CIF Southern Section. But Stevens, the Sunset League MVP, also stepped up his scoring for the Sailors (21-7), who won the league and advanced to the Division 1 quarterfinals. Stevens was second on his team in both goals (49) and steals (35). A co-captain, he scored the game-winning goal as the Sailors beat league foe Los Alamitos, 9-8, to capture the S&R Sport Cup for the second straight year. Stevens, a two-time Dream Team pick, is bound for Harvard.