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Dos Pueblos Honors Alums Who Competed, Won Gold at Olympic Games

Water polo players Kiley Neushul and Sami Hill, and shot putter Nick Scarvelis share their experiences at the Games in Rio

Olympic gold medalists (center, left) Kiley Neushul and (center right) Sami Hill, are joined by their siblings on the Dos Pueblos pool deck. At the left of Kiley are her sisters Ryann and Jamie Neushul. Alongside Sami are Kodi and Abbi Hill. Click to view larger
Olympic gold medalists (center, left) Kiley Neushul and (center right) Sami Hill, are joined by their siblings on the Dos Pueblos pool deck. At the left of Kiley are her sisters Ryann and Jamie Neushul. Alongside Sami are Kodi and Abbi Hill. (J.C. Corliss / Noozhawk photo)

The Elings Performing Arts Center at Dos Pueblos High School was filled with students and faculty alike Thursday during an assembly to honor their Olympics alumni — Kiley Neushul, Sami Hill and Nick Scarvelis.

The three world-class athletes answered questions, gave advice, told funny stories and shared their best Olympic memories in a series of questions and answers proctored by English teacher Mike Gerken. 

Before going on to bring home a gold medal with Team USA in women's water polo,  Neushul and Hill dominated in the pool at Dos Pueblos and at the collegiate level.

Neushul played at Stanford and Hill at UCLA before training full-time with the national team. Hill is a goalie and Neushul is a driver or attacker.

Though born in the U.S., Scarvelis embraced his Greek heritage and paid homage to his family by representing Greece in track & field. The 6-foot-1, 276-pound athlete recently graduated from UCLA, where he won the Pac-12 title in the shot put and also threw the discus.

Scarvelis, who won the CIF State Meet shot put title during his senior year at DP, described the immense support he received, not only from his family but also from the Greek community.

While he has dual citizenship, Scarvelis doesn’t speak the language. Yet the “one thing (the Greek community) was really sincere about was, ‘you’re Greek in the blood,’ which means you’re Greek and that’s all they really care about,” he said. “They were really welcoming, and my family especially was super excited because I was representing the flag and our church. It especially meant a great deal to my grandparents but also to my extended Greek community, some of which I didn’t even know.”

For Hill and Neushul, the national team selection process consisted of a grueling 15 months of training before being told on June 16 they had been chosen. After hearing the news, both aquatic athletes said the first thing they did was call their families, some of whom were in the audience on Thursday.

Hill and Neushul are both the eldest of three girls in their respective families, and all six girls are forces to be reckoned with in water polo. The sisters are all immensely supportive of each other and were present in Rio to watch the gold-medal match.

Nick Scarvelis talks about competing for the Greek National Track & Field team at the Olympic Games. Click to view larger
Nick Scarvelis talks about competing for the Greek National Track & Field team at the Olympic Games. (J.C. Corliss / Noozhawk photo)

In the Hill family, Sami is followed by Kodi and Abbi. Kodi played alongside Sami at Dos Pueblos as well as at UCLA, where she will finish out her final season this year. Kodi trained with the national team and was cut just before the Olympics. Abbi, meanwhile, is a sophomore standout at Dos Pueblos.

Abbi said Sami’s accomplishments have helped make her a better player. “She’s an inspiration and she pushes me. She’s one of those people I look up to. I’m just so excited for her and proud of her.”

Kodi and Sami have been teammates since they were kids.

“Playing together can be hard sometimes ... we bicker,” cracked Kodi. “Sometimes we can’t even look at each other, but most of the time it’s amazing. She’s my best friend.”

Said Sami: “It helps that we don’t play the same position, but it’s so fun. We’re really close and just love playing together.”

The Neushul sisters were born to water polo parents. Their grandfather played at UCLA, father, Peter, was an All-American at UCSB and mom, Cathy, was a standout club player at UCSB and later became an outstanding youth club coach.

Kiley is the eldest, followed by Jamie and Ryann. Like Kiley, Jamie plays at Stanford.

Like Sami and Kodi Hill, Kiley and Jamie have been on the same team for many years. Ryann just began her junior year at Dos Pueblos and is quickly making a name for herself.

“It’s a huge family thing," Kiley said. "It can be hard at times, especially with your mom as a coach and your sister as a teammate. But it’s also the most rewarding because she’s one of the people who knows me best. It’s amazing to share this with my sisters and my parents."

“Over the years there have been a lot of medals but (the Olympics gold) is the best of all because it really represents all their hard work,” said Ryann. “I’ve known Kiley’s friends for a long time, and we’ve been watching them for several years, so this was amazing.”

Kiley said the support of her family has played a huge part in her success as a water polo player.

“My family was with me the entire way from when I was 6 years old and started playing water polo until last week when we won the gold medal," she noted. "For me, it was just a huge family accomplishment. I couldn’t have done it without them."

Noozhawk intern Sarah Scarminach can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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