Steffens before the game. Stanford announced this week she has received an NCAA post-graduate scholarship to help fund her master's degree studies at the university in management science and engineering

Water polo

The winning culture of USA women’s water polo

BUDAPEST — It’s the end of July, and you can feel those dog days of summer settling in. With it come the doldrums for a lot of Major League Baseball teams. By now, it’s clear their chances of winning the World Series are the same as Rutgers winning the 2017 Big Ten football championship. Like, zero.

Which has led to a slew of recent articles about one of the most controversial strategies in sports. It’s called “tanking.” Essentially, you tear up your team, understanding that in the short term you are going to be very bad. The trade-off: long-term greatness. You hope.

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Water polo: the start of the quest

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. — Over the past week, the U.S. women’s water polo team has played Hungary in four exhibitions up and down the state of California, the Americans winning all four, the last a 9-4 victory Sunday that was way more physical than the final score would indicate before a happy, flag-waving crowd of about 1,000 people at Corona del Mar High School.

Afterward, the American players signed autographs and posed for photos — there were dozens and dozens of little girls in the crowd — and, under a postcard-perfect Southern California sky, the NBC cameras beamed it all out on live TV.

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A band of sisters on the road to making history

It’s not that Lolo Silver wasn’t already a world-class athlete and in what the rest of us mere mortals would consider great shape. Among her many accomplishments, she was the leading scorer for the winning U.S. women’s water polo team last summer at the FINA World Cup, with 11 goals.

Then again, the American women’s head coach, Adam Krikorian, had promised the U.S. women that over the course of this winter, water polo’s off-season, they would — at his direction — come to know what it was like to get in amazingly, ridiculously phenomenal shape.