Athlete of the month: Diego Hammond


Angela Yang, Asst. News Editor

Having spent the last nine years of his life dedicated to water polo, senior Diego Hammond is beginning his last season on the Diamond Bar High School team this year. He was selected as captain his junior year and led the team through the 2015 season.

Hammond has been on the team since the water polo program was launched at DBHS, already having six years under his belt from participation in club teams prior to starting high school. His father and brother both played the sport, leading Hammond to follow in their footsteps and pursue it as well. But even with water polo in his blood, it’s not the only motivation that has kept him playing throughout the years.

“I love the intensity of water polo because there is so much that happens underneath the water that gets your adrenaline going, which adds a whole new element to the sport that I believe is unique to just water polo,” Hammond said.

The athlete has competed in the annual USA Water Polo National Junior Olympics seven times.

“People think that water polo is based off of size,” Hammond said. “But I want to show that size doesn’t matter when you’re playing a sport [and that] as long as you work really hard and try your best, you could be the best.”

However, many people don’t see or think about what happens under the water.

“People kick you in every part of your body.  There’s lots of getting kneed usually in the tailbone. People grab your suit. They also grab your cap and drown you,” Hammond said. “Since the referees can’t see any of this, the players don’t get kicked out of the game.”

Hammond is used to the minor scratches on his body from all the grabbing, but the worst of his injuries have been a black eye and a nosebleed.

As with most team sports, motivation to improve can often come from other players. Hammond names junior Aaron Velarde and current senior water polo captains Dario Mariani and Kris Chang as teammates who inspire him to play better.

“They’re the hardest working on the team,” Hammond said. “[So] as they get better, it makes me want to become a better player too.”

The athlete is not currently aiming for a specific college. According to Hammond, any college which he deems suitable and offers his major is a possibility.

The water polo program at DBHS was first introduced two years ago and is beginning its third season this year.

“I think [being on the team has] helped me to be more of a leader because they’re a very young team,” Hammond said. “I have to try to help them as much as I can because I’ve had more experience with water polo.”