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More Depth To The Farm

Nov 10, 2021

STANFORD, Calif. – Dunlevie Family Director of Women's Water Polo John Tanner announced the signings of six highly touted student-athletes to National Letters of Intent on Wednesday. 

Kai Blankenship (Thousand Oaks, Calif.), Serena Browne (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), Jenna Flynn (San Jose, Calif.), Maggie Hawkins (Lafayette, Calif.), Jackie King (Los Gatos, Calif.) and Ella Woodhead (San Rafael, Calif.) will join the Cardinal for the 2023 campaign.

"This is a class of bridge builders, women who have connected teammates and raised the overall level of their teams, even as they have endured significant periods of isolation and inactivity," said Tanner, who enters his 25th season at the helm in 2022. "We are excited to welcome them to our program, learn how they have developed and drawn upon their perseverance and resilience and partner with them in contributing to the championship pursuits and educational growth that are cornerstones of our program." 

Kai Blankenship • Thousand Oaks, Calif. • Agoura HS
Quick Profile: Member of Youth National Team, traveling to Greece to train and compete against national teams from Greece and Germany ... qualified for Division II semifinals CIF-SS as a sophomore and was named team MVP ... received Nick Johnson Inspiration award at ODP National Championships while also earning silver medal.

Outside the Pool: Works as an instructor with Agoura Stingrays/Sharks, a program designed to help special-needs students learn how to swim and play water polo ... involved with Social Justice Curriculum Council for her school district, working to better diversify and integrate literature from all cultures, races, identities and backgrounds into city libraries and K-12 curriculum for all schools ... led virtual training and organized practices from her home pool, which included building a water polo goal so others had access to train.

Coach Tanner says: "Kai is a high energy, high speed, resilient athlete who connects teammates in the water and on the pool deck. Kai's adaptability to fluid game situations and position demands will allow her to adjust quickly to playing at this level."

Serena Browne • Montreal, Quebec, Canada • John Rennie HS
Quick Profile: Youth National Team silver medalist (2019) ... Defensive Player at National Championships (2019) ... U16 National Championship gold medalist (2018). 

Outside the Pool: Recipient of English Award and Sport Étude Award (2021) during her Quebec senior year.

Coach Tanner says: "Serena is a versatile interior player at both ends of the pool who is also effective scoring from the perimeter. Given her length and broad-based skill set, Serena is terrific in power play situations, on both offense and defense."

Jenna Flynn • San Jose, Calif. • Leland HS 
Quick Profile: Member of U18 Junior Olympic Championship team (2019) ... MVP of Youth Pan American Games (2019) ... competed in Junior World Championship in Funchal, Portugal (2019).

Outside the Pool: Coaches kids at local water polo club throughout the year, teaching a wide range of skills, including how to tread water, run zones and drops ... constantly pushes for greatness, espsecially when it comes to practice ... believes in pushing her teammates in practice to help prepare each other for competition ... recognizes importance of team bonding to ensure chemistry in and out of the pool and competitions.

Coach Tanner says: "Jenna is a wonderful teammate, poised leader and resilient competitor who brings a wide range of national and international experience. Jenna puts continuous pressure on opposing defenses with her pool vision and scoring range."

Maggie Hawkins • Lafayette, Calif. • Campolindo HS 
Quick Profile: Four-year varsity member of Campolindo High School ... Junior Olympics All-American ... member of USA Water Polo Youth National Team.

Outside the Pool: Served as "Learn to swim" instructor for neighborhood swim club ... Lionsheart Charity Group Secretary ... water polo coach for Lamorinda U12 and U14 girls' teams (2021) ... USA Water Polo Academic All-American ... two-time captain of her high school team.

Coach Tanner says: "Maggie is a major offensive presence at two meters while also being a disruptive defender on the perimeter and in front of the goal. Maggie's combination of speed and length creates matchup headaches for opponents."

Jackie King • Los Gatos, Calif. • Los Gatos HS 
Quick Profile: Three-time Santa Clara Valley Athletic League champion (2019-20 team and league MVP, 2019 first-team all-league and second-team all-Central Coast Section) ... Outstanding Academic All-American distinction every year eligible ... member of ODP Academy and alternate for Youth National Team (2021).

Outside the Pool: Lead volunteer counselor at an environmental science outreach camp, teaching K-8 students about science, environment and conservation ... performed public piano recitals at local senior centers ... editor-in-chief of El Gato, the Los Gatos High School newspaper ... three-sport varsity athlete, also competing in lacrosse and swimming.

Coach Tanner says: "Jackie is a comprehensively strong goalie, combining leg drive, positioning awareness, efficient blocking mechanics and counter-attack passing. She also brings broad-based competitive experience as a three-sport standout."

Ella Woodhead • San Rafael, Calif. • Sacred Heart Prep 
Quick Profile: Central Coast Section Open Division champion (2019), being named a NISCA second-team All-American and first-team All-CCS and all-league selection ... member of USA Youth National Team that trained and competed in Greece (2021) ... member of USA Youth Futures international team that competed in Hungary (2019).

Outside the Pool: Completing senior honors independent research project focused on the history of pools in America and how segregation and other government policies influenced access to pools for people of color and communities of lower socioeconomic class ... organized open-water Alcatraz swim in 2020 that raised over $5K for the Equal Justice Initiative ... volunteer swim instructor since 2015 for USA Swimming Foundation Make-a-Splash program in Marin County.

Coach Tanner says: "Ella exudes passion for water polo, generally, and high-stakes competitive situations, specifically, energizing her team and the entire pool. She thrives playing any position and eagerly embraces any assignment."