Longan Returns to the Her Alma Mater
Olympic water polo gold medalist and OCS alumna Amanda Longan came home to the OCS campus in a special assembly to honor her incredible athletic achievement. The 2015 OCS graduate returned to school - to the halls she once walked as a student, but this time to take photos with students and autograph their water polo balls and photos.
Longan's mother, Kim, and her sister Shelby, OCS Class of 2013, were guests of honor.
Former OCS Head of Athletics Jan Hethcock shared his recollections and impressions of Longan, a newbie freshman eager to play waterpolo. She went on to become a powerhouse goalie, leading the Lady Lions to their first ever league title, the goalie of the year both as a junior and a senior, setting a school record of 451 saves. She then went on to the University of Southern California for an illustrious collegiate career.
During the assembly, students viewed a film produced by OCS Advanced Film Teacher Andrew Christopher who interviewed Longan in Tokyo shortly after the women's water polo gold medal win over Spain.
After the video, Director of Aquatics Jack Kocur introduced Longan and conducted a question and answer session about her journey to the Olympics, her faith, and what advice she would give to students.
"There's probably a hundred things I would want to tell my high school self, but there's a few I am going to address," she said. "First and foremost, when it comes to lifestyle choices, you have to know what your priorities are. Know what you truly want in life and let it be something that makes you so happy. Don't force yourself to do something just because you think you are good at it. Don't force yourself to do something because other people want you to do it."
She also stressed having balance in life: "Do what you love, work so, so hard, but at the same time know when to have moments of fun."
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Her 10-year journey to Olympic gold came with sacrifices, discipline and challenges, especially with the games pushed back a year to 2021 due to COVID-19.
"I have experienced so much growth in the last ten years... my sacrifices and my struggles have everything to do with where I am now, not just having a gold medal, but where I am as a person. That means way more to me. Those sacrifices and those struggles - nobody wants to go there in the first place - but you want those. You want to know what is a challenge and what you need to change," she said.
She also emphasized her struggles also gave her an opportunity to grow in her faith in God, particularly during the year of full-time training before the Olympics when she "was a mess" and struggled with the comparison so prevalent in a competitive environment.
"I let myself be alone with all of those feelings which made my journey so hard, harder than it should have been. But part of that struggle is that I learned what I needed to do was to dive back into that relationship (with God). This past year I started a Bible study group with a couple of girls on my team and that changed the course of this year tenfold. But I had to go through that struggle of not knowing exactly what I was missing...and seeing God fill my heart," she shared.
Kocur and Hethcock presented her with a framed photo, which included her signature, an OCS water polo cap and Team USA cap. The art was designed by OCS graphic design teacher Blanca Schnobrich and the framing taken care of by OCS Director of Athletic Operations Pete Ackermann. The photo will be hung in the lobby of the Dallas Athletic Building, alongside OCS alumni turned pro such as Jimmy Clausen, Colby Parkinson, Cassius Marsh and Casey Matthews, and current Dodger pitcher Phil Bickford. Longan is the first OCS alumni to win an Olympic medal.
Afterward, Longan stayed for media interviews, and to take photos with students. Middle school students viewed the assembly via livestream, but after the event, Longan visited the middle school and spent time with the fifth through eighth graders.