Porterville High School 2019 alumni water polo goalie standout Samantha Rainey signed with the Biola University Women's water polo program Sunday. The Eagles are an NCAA Division II team.
After her time in high school, Rainey decided to retire from the water polo scene and attend California State University San Bernardino. But when COVID-19 was declared a pandemic in March, she came back home and realized she missed being in the pool. Rainey missed playing the sport that shaped her into the leader she is today.
Between being home and attending virtual classes, Rainey continued to play water polo with Exeter Water Polo Club, which brought back the motivation to continue her water polo career.
"I am super excited to play for Biola University, especially with it being a first-year program," Rainey said. "I am also super excited that Biola and Azusa Pacific University are rivals, which means I will be playing against my twin sister Shyanne. She is now my contender when we enter the pool. I will also be playing against another former teammate Rosemary Chapman (Fresno Pacific). All three of us have been playing with each other for years, and it will be different not being on the same team as them."
The Rainey twins and Chapman were the sole four-year varsity players on the Panthers girls water polo team when they won the CIF Central Section Division II Championship in 2018. Samantha Rainey had 10 blocks, an assist, and a steal in that game and finished her high school career with 430 blocks.
At Porterville, Rainey was a member of three East Yosemite League championship teams. She earned All-Valley and All-EYL first-team twice and was an All-EYL second team and All-EYL honorable mention also in high school.
Rainey has been in the pool training since July. She's been working with her club coach Jack Amaral, a former goalie at The University of Redlands, to continue to improve during this unprecedented time. Rainey feels like this is the strongest she has been in a long time because she has focused more on her training by implementing CrossFit, swimming, and running in her daily routine.
"Samantha is a tremendous athlete," Amaral said. "She's the type of player it doesn't matter what sport it is; she will find a way to excel at it. Samantha has been an amazing player to watch grow as an athlete and as a young woman. I have no doubt in my mind she will continue to dazzle her coach and leave crowds cheering at Biola University."
"I couldn't have done any of this without God, having him work in mysterious ways to get me where I am today," Rainey said. "I want to thank a few people that have helped me along my water polo journey. My dad, sister, water polo coaches, and especially my mom, who is there for every water polo tournament and made me the athlete I am today.”
Rainey is gearing up for her final water polo tournament in Dallas, Texas, before joining the Biola University Eagles in the fall of 2021.
She will be studying Business Administration with a concentration in marketing to become a sports marketer for an athletic company or professional sports team.
Editor's Note: The story was changed to omit that Biola University plays in the PacWest Conference. The women's water program has not yet selected which conference to play in and the PacWest does not have water polo.