When she first started attending Fontana High School as a freshman, Isabella Stephens wasnât sure that she really wanted to play water polo.
But it turned out to be a very good choice, because Stephens helped lead the Steelers to league championships â and she earned lots of individual honors along the way.
As a senior this year, Stephens was named the MVP of the San Andreas League, and this past week, she received the Ken Hubbs Award as Fohiâs top female athlete.
âI found something that I truly enjoyed doing with people I came to love,â Stephens said.
Her mother, Cora Munguia, said her daughter started water polo as a âfluke.â
âHer best friend came from a water polo background,â Munguia said. âSo the girls were transitioning from junior high to high school and her bestie didn’t want to go alone. That’s how it started.â
Because of her height advantage, Stephens was immediately put in the position of goalie, and in her freshman year she was named to the All-CIF team.
She went on to play very well as a sophomore, but then she and her teammates were disappointed because in the fall of 2020, the entire water polo season was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
However, the Steelers came right back in 2021 and earned their fifth straight league championship with a 10-0 record (18-5 overall).
This time, Stephens became the offensive standout for the team, moving out of the goalie position. She piled up 64 goals and 48 assists along with 28 steals in league action.
âI always strived to be better at the positions I was put in,â Stephens said. âIt was difficult to learn new things, but all the hard work paid off in the games.â
She received a lot of help from her teammates (including senior Emely Hernandez, junior Arlene Tapia, and freshman Brooklyn Green) as well as her coaches (Spencer Fernandes, Lauren Fernandes, and Michael Wubker) and Athletic Director Brandon Colbrunn.
âMy coaches always put their best efforts into making myself and our team the best it could be and I am very grateful for them,â Stephens said.
She is now enrolled at RCC for the fall semester and will be on the water polo team there.
âIâm very proud of her,â Munguia said. âI wish her Dad was still here to see her go. He was very much into sports. He passed away from a heart condition when Isabella was 10.â
Munguia is also proud of Isabellaâs younger sister, Tyrra, who was the league MVP in swimming in her recently-completed junior season, leading Fohi to the league title. So next year, one more talented athlete will be continuing the familyâs legacy in the pool.