Rainey, Chapman sign NLIs to play collegiate water polo

Together, seniors Shyanne Rainey and Rosemary Chapman have been two of the brightest stars in the Porterville High School water polo program, and now they have a chance to do more at the collegiate level. 

At Porterville on Tuesday, both Rainey and Chapman sat down to sign National Letters of Intent to play water polo at NCAA Division II programs next season. Rainey is joining the Cougars of Azusa Pacific University in southern California, while Chapman is becoming a Sunbird of Fresno Pacific University. Both universities are private Christian institutions.

Both universities doled out partial athletic scholarships for the two. Azusa will be paying a majority of Rainey’s tuition, while both athletes have academic scholarships helping cover costs. Rainey has a 4.0 GPA and Chapman has a 4.3 GPA.

“There’s a lot of things to consider when you choose a college, well [at least] for me,” Chapman said. “And they had to meet all my criteria of a good school with kinesiology. Good water polo program. Good people. Small community. And it fit all of those things.”

A member of PHS’ Fellowship of Christian Athletes like Chapman, Rainey said Azusa’s focus on religion played a big part in her choosing the Sunbirds.

“I chose Azusa Pacific because it’s Christ-centered and religion plays a big part of my life,” Rainey said. “And I love how [when] I visited there, everyone’s like, ‘Pray. Believe.’ And I fell in love with that because I love going to church. And what’s mandatory there is you have to go to worship and it’s part of the curriculum, and so you have to go and that’s something that I really loved when I went there.” 

Rainey said one of her favorite Bible verses for when she’s going through a rough patch is Psalms 138:8, which reads, “The Lord will work out his plans for my life — for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever. Don’t abandon me, for you made me.”

Chapman at attacker and Rainey at hole set, helped lead Porterville to their first CIF Central Division II Championship since 2006 with a 10-7 win over defending champion Redwood. The Panthers finished the season with a 25-5 overall record and an 8-0 East Yosemite League record for their third-straight EYL title.

“Rose and Shyanne played outstanding this season, both together and as individuals,” PHS head coach Evan Thomas said. “We set goals at the beginning of the season and they attained every one of them and made sure our team didn’t stop working until we did. Both are great leaders because of their work ethic [but] they lead mostly by example. They are incredible athletes and showed their athletic ability and knowledge of water polo game after game. I couldn’t be happier or more proud of these two young ladies.”

On the season Chapman had 128 goals, 126 steals, 93 assists and 76 drawn ejections, while Rainey finished her season with 102 goals, 36 steals, 29 assists and 27 drawn ejections.

“I told them both early on in the season that they need to take that effort to a college program and see how far it will take them,” Thomas said. “I believe that they both will out work any player in the same pool as them, whether it be practice or competition, teammate or opponent. Their college coaches will be greatly surprised when they jump in the pool for the first time. I think both will quickly become strong members of their teams, and by the end of their college careers can be a top player at their school. I am eager to see what’s to come from them both! It has been a pleasure and an honor to work with them both.”

Playing in the Golden Coast Conference, the Cougars placed fourth at this year’s conference championship tournament and had an overall record of 16-16 — tied for the most wins in program history. The Sunbirds play in the Pacific West Conference and went 12-17 on the overall season, placing fifth in the Western Water Polo Association (WWPA) Championships.

At Azusa, Rainey will play set after showing set coach Sarah Orozco what she could do at a shooting clinic.

“She said let’s see what you can do, so I went in there and I showed her different moves and what I could do and she’s like ‘You’re going to be our set for Azusa,” Rainey said. “I was like ‘Oh my gosh, really?’ She said yes, so I was just over excited and she emailed me the next day saying, ‘I can really see you playing set, center at our school.’ And I was like, ‘Yes!’, because certain coaches told me your size matters, but it turns out it doesn’t.”

Chapman will also play her usual attacker position, explaining that she can drive to the hole from her position and use her speed. Chapman’s one of the fastest athletes in any pool in the Valley and a two-time Orange Belt Girls Swimmer of the Year for the Recorder.

Rainey and Chapman both said they’re excited to move on to the next level with Chapman calling the signing “stress relieving.”

“It was stress relieving to finally make a decision, because my mom was always on my back about, ‘You need to make a decision now,’” Chapman said with a smile. “Especially since this is signing week, all the teams want to have their teams together by now and not wait till later, so I had to make a decision and I’m glad I made the right one with Fresno Pacific.”

For Rainey, the move is bittersweet, since this will be the first time she won’t be with her twin sister, Samantha, the Panthers’ outstanding goalie and another four-year varsity player. The trio were this season’s team captains.

“That’s going to be difficult,” Shyanne Rainey said. “I already feel [the separation]. I’m like, ‘Samantha, what am I going to do without you? Who am I going to talk to, who’s going to be right next to me saying, “Oh, did you see what just happened?”’ But I think we planned a strict schedule where this time we’ll  FaceTime each other, this time we’ll talk to each other. So we’re having it all figured it out. She’s applied to two colleges 30 minutes away from me, so I’m hoping she chooses one of those.” 

Both Chapman and Shyanne said they’d major in kinesiology with Chapman planning on becoming an athletic trainer or opening a clinic for all ages and disabilities. Shyanne plans to go into pediatric physical therapy and train therapy dogs to work with children.

Recommended for you