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Hard work paying off for Rossi
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Joey Rossi made a name for himself during his junior year at Ceres High School. The southpaw scored a school-record 125 goals en route to leading the varsity boys water polo team to a share of the Modesto Metro Conference title and playoff berth.

Rossi is hoping for a repeat performance this year.

"I want it really bad," he said.

The Bulldogs will compete with a revamped lineup as they lost seven players to graduation, including Eric Scudder, Mike Polovin, Kyle Fliflet, Justen Harper, Cody Frampton, Jason Weststeyn and J.C. Reed.

"It's going to take a lot of team work," Rossi said.

"Joey puts enough pressure on himself," said Ceres coach Sonja Raynes. "I don't have to put any on him."

Rossi started preparing for his senior campaign before the 2004-05 school year ended.

Competing for the varsity boys swimming team helped keep Rossi in tip-top shape. He placed second in the 200 free and 500 free at the league championships.

This summer, Rossi played for the Modesto-Stanislaus 18-and-under water polo club. They finished third at the Big Island Invitational in Hawaii.

"I spent the whole summer playing with guys from other teams," Rossi said. "I learned a lot."

Rossi also trained daily. He swam and worked on his shot at Johansen High School. The janitor let him in. Katie Carlson, goalie for the Vikings' varsity girls water polo squad, also participated.

"He was in the water 4-5 hours a day," Raynes said. "He also lifted weights and ran (at his house).

"He has a great work ethic. And a big heart."

Added Rossi: "I trained up to nine hours a day sometimes. It was worth it."

Rossi joined the varsity squad at Ceres High during his sophomore year.

Last season, he earned first-team, all-conference honors. Rossi scored against every team in league. He had 13 goals against co-MMC champion Beyer, including seven during the Bulldogs' 10-8 win over the Patriots in Ceres.

Ask Rossi about his record-breaking performance, and he'll respond humbly.

"I was surprised when I got it," he said. "I never kept count. I just played."

Rossi hopes his hard work will lead to a college scholarship. He wants to attend Long Beach State, UOP or Loyola Marymount University. Rossi has a 3.5 cumulative GPA.

"This year, I'm trying to become an All-American," Rossi said. "I'm trying to attract attention."

Most importantly, Rossi is having fun.

"My life is regimented for water polo and school. That's all I do. I love it." - By DALE BUTLER / Staff reporter of the Ceres (Calif.) Courier