AOTM: Raphael Mutuc

After four years on the water polo team, Mutuc has earned the title of Most Defensive Player.

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AOTM: Raphael Mutuc

Raphael Mutuc has earned the titles Most Valuable Player and Defensive Player of the Year while playing for varsity.

Raphael Mutuc has earned the titles Most Valuable Player and Defensive Player of the Year while playing for varsity.

SAMYUKTHA VELLAIYAN

Raphael Mutuc has earned the titles Most Valuable Player and Defensive Player of the Year while playing for varsity.

SAMYUKTHA VELLAIYAN

SAMYUKTHA VELLAIYAN

Raphael Mutuc has earned the titles Most Valuable Player and Defensive Player of the Year while playing for varsity.

Though he was originally unsure which sport to take on, senior Raphael Mutuc has found a passion for water polo, having competed for four years at Diamond Bar High School and in the Junior Olympics for the past two years.

Mutuc first decided to join the team so that he could participate in the same sport as his friends, but grew to love the sport for himself as he continued playing.

“It feels good to play in a team, as a team; just getting to know everyone. In my four years here, I’ve stuck around the same… teammates and they’ve become more than just teammates to me now,” Mutuc said.

Before becoming the goalie, he said he spent a rocky freshman year as a field player. After realizing his talents were not suited to being an offensive player, Mutuc had to find a new position.

Alexander Matal, the water polo coach at the time, advised him to try being a goalie. This led him to become the goalie for both frosh-soph and junior varsity teams his sophomore year, eventually advancing to varsity goalie his junior and senior years.

“Raphael has an incredible work ethic. It is best demonstrated by his actions after the coaching staff approached him about switching from a field player to a goalie at the end of his freshman season to potentially earn the starting varsity position his junior year. He accepted the challenge and went to work,” Matal said in an email.

His success as a goalie led him to earn the titles of MVP as a sophomore on frosh-soph, and Most Defensive Player during his junior year on the varsity team.

To support his team and augment his skill as a goalie, Mutuc also practices outside of school.  He plays water polo with Chino Hills Area Water Polo Aquatics, better known as CHAWP Aquatics.

With CHAWP, Mutuc plays in many tournaments on the local, regional and national levels. Most notably, he participated in the Junior Olympics as a part of the boys 16 and under team in both 2017 and 2018.

In his first year, he played with CHAWP’s Blue team and won second place in invationals. This past summer, he moved up to CHAWP’s White team and placed 16th in championships.

Even though these games are the hardest he competes in, Mutuc said that he also enjoys them the most, as the games are usually closer and more intense.

“Two years ago, the varsity goalies, both of them, were leaving to college and last year’s seniors didn’t have a goalie. So, my coach pulled me outside and told me, ‘Hey, they’re gonna depend on you,’ and I felt like I needed to get better,” he said. “That’s why I did CHAWP that whole year, trying to get better for the seniors.”

After high school, Mutuc said he plans to continue playing water polo at the collegiate level.

Although Mutuc is unsure which college he will attend, he has received offers from Division II school McKendree University in Illinois and Division III school Washington and Jefferson College in Pennsylvania.

“[Mutuc] possesses great leadership skills – he leads by example, holds himself and his teammates accountable. He attends all practices, his effort is consistent day in and day out. He pushes his teammates to work hard every day. In games, he is the backbone of the defense,” Matal said.