Irene Gonzalez jumped out as one the Rainbow Wahine’s top scorers this season.
With the Big West water polo championships coming up this weekend, there are a lot of emotions going through everyone’s minds.
For Gonzalez, it will be the first time her parents will watch her in a game.
“Since winter break, I didn’t see them,” Gonzalez said. “They’re going to come, and they’re going to [fly back] on Monday.”
It is special, considering that Gonzalez is from Barcelona, Spain. Barcelona to Hawaiʻi is around 7,964 miles. However, the miles from Spain to California, where the championships is hosted, is shorter (5,894 miles).
In addition to Hawaiʻi, Gonzalez considered going to the University of Michigan. Although Hawaiʻi is far from Spain, it was as close to home as Gonzalez will get. The weather was the main factor for her, and with the help of former teammate and friend Paula Chillida Esforzado (2017 graduate), she adjusted well.
Gonzalez and Chillida Esforzado both went to Ies Car Sant Cugat in Sant Cugat, Barcelona, for high school. It was a long journey to Hawaiʻi, but Gonzalez is thankful for the opportunity to play here.
She paces the team, ranking in the top tier of six different Big West categories: second in scoring (49 goals), second in goals per match (2.13), third in assists (33), second in assists per match (1.43), second in steals per match (1.78) and fourth in total steals (41).
Many of her contributions and efforts have led the Rainbow Wahine to pose a 5-0 record in the conference as they head into the top seed for the tournament.
It was the first time the team went undefeated since joining the conference in 2013.
Gonzalez credits her teammates and coaches for her rising success.
“It’s been good for me because I’ve been playing really good lately,” she said. “But it’s also because I have such great teammates, and to all the things, it makes my work easier too.”
Her interest in water polo came from her father, Enric Gonzalez, who played the sport when he was young. Gonzalez says she liked it more than swimming.
Gonzalez still has one year of eligibility left on the team, but it is not too early to think about plans after her career. The kinesiology major plans to go back to Spain and get a master's degree.