2011-08-11 / Sports

Shea hey: Newbury Park senior is locked in

Craig aims to be top goal-scorer for Panther water polo squad
By Eliav Appelbaum


CRAZY LIKE A FOX—Newbury Park High senior standout Shea Craig is currently in Hawaii competing with the California Grizzlies water polo club. When he returns to the mainland, Craig will join the Panthers and begin preparation for the fall high school season. 
Photo courtesy of Shea Craig CRAZY LIKE A FOX—Newbury Park High senior standout Shea Craig is currently in Hawaii competing with the California Grizzlies water polo club. When he returns to the mainland, Craig will join the Panthers and begin preparation for the fall high school season. Photo courtesy of Shea Craig Shea Craig is the sniper.

When he shoots, he’s on target almost every time. Goalkeepers better watch out.

“The kid has a great shot,” said friend Dillon Galvin.

“I’m jealous of it. I’m twice his size and a lefty—and he’s got this crazy shot.”

An incoming senior driver for the Newbury Park High boys’ water polo team, Craig is expected to lead the Panthers in and out of the water.

“I’m looking forward to coming together as a team,” Craig said. “It’s not about individual play. I’m going to try to give the team good defense, good offense and score goals. I’m going to try to lead the team to victory.”

It starts with that killer shot.

“He can change arm angles,” said Newbury Park head coach Dave Gleisberg. “It’s just a strong shot, and it’s quick. It’s out of his hands before the goalie knows it.”

Galvin, a teammate with Craig on the South Coast Aquatics club team from Thousand Oaks, said Craig is a great teammate, friend and shooter.

Galvin’s a senior utility and set at Westlake High.

“He’s a really good dude,” Galvin said of Craig. “He’s funny and chill at the same. Everyone spazzes out, but it’s a good mix of crazy and fun.”

The friends were hanging out while watching “Toy Story 3” at Galvin’s home last week when the Thousand Oaks Acorn called.

“He’s a weird guy,” Galvin said, before telling Craig directly: “Dude, you’re a weird guy.”

Gleisberg said Craig, one of the Panthers’ top scorers, is an integral team player.

“He’s positive to everyone,” the coach said. “When he played with South Coast he learned how to be a leader. He’s going to have to be a leader for our team this year. Most of our other starters, off the top of my head, are going to be juniors. We’ll have some seniors in there, but our other playmakers are juniors and him.

“He’s a generally nice guy all-around. He’s good to his classmates, water polo teammates and everyone on campus.”

Craig, 17, has enjoyed a whirlwind summer.

He starred at a Junior Olympic tournament with South Coast last week in Irvine. South Coast placed 12th among 32 teams, including outfits from California, Washington and Missouri.

Craig traveled to Hawaii on Aug. 8 with the California Grizzlies water polo club, an All-Star team of Conejo Valley standouts.

“I’ve never been to Hawaii. I’m excited,” said Craig, who joined Galvin on the trip. “We have one game a day. We’re going to visit Pearl Harbor, go on hikes, visit the beach and hang out a lot.”

Craig, who sports a 3.5 gradepoint average, has three older sisters—Katie, Samantha and Dakota— who played soccer at NPHS. His parents are Laura and Jack.

He “dislikes” running, he said. So water polo comes naturally.

“It’s my sport,” Craig said. “I love going to practice. I love going to games. I love the kids who play. I always have a good time no matter what.”

The Panther also enjoys surfing, snowboarding and pickup basketball. His favorite school subjects are science and math.

Craig might be a “weird dude” to his friends. But he has big goals to play college water polo.

“I want to get bigger and gain weight,” he said. “To play at the college level you need to be pretty strong. I want to improve my swim times so I can be a faster player and become more defensive.

“ When you become more defensive-minded, the offense will eventually start to work out for you.

“I want to make my coach happy, make my teammates happy and lead them to a good year. No matter if we win or lose, I want them to have a good year.”

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