by Steven Shaff
St. Francis senior water polo goalie Sophie Rubino takes advantage of every moment of every day. And she needs it.
From the time her alarm clock rings at 5 a.m. until she lays down for the night, the day is full. The drive to be successful in school and in water polo at St. Francis High School starts with more than a ride into school each day. From her home in Penn Valley, Calif., Rubino commutes almost 70 miles each way.
“Sophie is one of the most dedicated water polo players on the team,” said head coach Heather Moody. “Every day she has to commute an hour and a half each way and she is at practice until 9:00 p.m. each night. She is not getting home until late and then turning around again the next morning. It shows her commitment.”
For Rubino, a product of Mt. St. Mary’s Academy in Grass Valley, the daily schedule is routine now after four years and worth every minute.
“My sister (Gabriella ’11) went here before me,” said Rubino. “But I have always wanted to go to St. Francis because of the sports and the spirit of St. Francis is huge.”
After the drive each morning, she attends the normal school day until 3 p.m. She studies on campus or at a friend’s house every afternoon before either practicing or playing until late each night. Then, Rubino drives back home.
“I am exhausted when I get home,” said Rubino. “It has been a long day but at the same time I am proud of what I have done and the commitment I have placed throughout the day.”
Rubino has participated on both the swimming (breaststroke/freestyle) and water polo teams during her time as a Troubadour. She was drawn to water polo for its team aspect.
“It is totally different,” said Rubino of water polo. “Swimming is such an individual sport and water polo is all team. It is more than just swimming laps.”
Rubino, who is in her third season on the team, took on a greater role last season, filling in at the goalie position for a sick teammate.
“I volunteered to the position because I wanted to keep the team going,” said Rubino, who led the team to the section finals. “You can’t play without a goalie. I tried out for a little bit and it worked out.”
Rubino, who will also compete on the swimming team in the spring, shines in the team concept. It was one of the reasons she was selected to be part of a service trip to the Bronx., N.Y., last summer.
“The Bronx was an experience like no other,” recalled Rubino. “We helped people at retirement homes and a soup kitchen. I would do anything to go back. You learn a lot about yourself and how to work with others. When I interviewed, they asked us how well we work together and I used water polo to show how I can work together as a team.”
Hayley Figeroid, one of her chaperones and a teacher at St. Francis, was impressed.
“She was quick to roll up her sleeves to help at a soup kitchen in the Bronx, and her playful smile brightened the day of so many disadvantaged men and women,” said Figeroid. “Her team spirit translated beautifully to the service trip, where she cooked and cleaned alongside classmates on our downtime and joyfully helped at our service sites.”
Rubino has improved under the guidance of Moody, a two-time USA Water Polo Player of the Year, this season.
“She is different than any coach I have ever had,” said Rubino. “My previous coaches have not paid attention to the goalie, focusing more attention on the offense. They have coached me and critiqued little things that make me a lot better. Overall, everything in practice makes me better.”
Rubino has seen action in all 27 games this season, making 99 saves and recording 6.2 goals against average, a mark that ranks seventh in the state of California.
“She is very successful in the class room and she is being successful here in the pool, too,” said Moody.
The Troubadours open Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs Friday, Nov. 9 against Atwater of the Central California Conference at Johansen High School in Modesto at 3 p.m. It will be the last game of eight first-round contests played on Friday, leaving Rubino a late, long drive home to Penn Valley.
Just another day in the life of Sophie Rubino.