The article below originally appeared on MercuryNews.com and is being reprinted with permission.
Sophomore Najelah Najdawi just became the most decorated female in College of San Mateo aquatics.
A state qualifier as a swimmer in the spring, Najdawi became the first-ever All-American water polo player to play for the Bulldogs. Quite impressive for someone whose high school — El Camino-South San Francisco — didn’t offer water polo.
“For those people who don’t think you can elevate your water polo career at a junior college,” CSM coach Randy Wright said, —… you’re wrong.”
“My career was made here,” Najdawi said of CSM.
The Bulldogs (11-11) beat Cabrillo 9-6 in the third-place game of the Coast Conference tournament. Najdawi, who scored four goals in the 11-6 semifinal loss to Foothill, finished her CSM career with a five-goal, three-assist performance.
“There was just a need to step up, finally,” said Najdawi, who gave credit to her team.
Santa Clara has shown interest in Najdawi, who scored 68 goals and had 21 assists.
Filling in her shoes next year will be tough, but maybe Melissa Chao (Notre Dame-Belmont) is up for the task. A first-team all-Coast selection, the freshman scored 38 goals and had 42 assists.