French water polo player Louis Grandi left his hometown for an opportunity to play his favorite sport at Riverside City College

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Louis Grandi (left) pulls back his arm ready to throw the ball toward Matty Roebuck (2) on Oct. 15. (Daniel Hernandez | Viewpoints)
By Mya Castro 

After transferring to Riverside City College from Marseille, France, Louis Grandi’s impact on the men’s water polo team has not gone unnoticed.

With a college career total of 76 goals and 46 steals, Grandi has helped his team secure nine wins so far this season. Grandi believes a strong mental game is important in improving the team’s play from here on.

“Being more focused until the end of the game will allow us to win against stronger teams,” Grandi said.

As a swimmer at a young age, Grandi was always fascinated by water polo and thought about giving it a try. Ten years later, Grandi’s love for water polo has remained unwavering.

“I was a swimmer at the beginning and when I saw the practice I said I wanted to try,” Grandi said. 

When deciding on what his future would look like outside of France, Grandi believed that coming to the U.S. was the best option. Through connections from his old teammate from their club, Cercle des Nageurs de Marseille, Grandi learned more about playing in the U.S. and attending school. 

“I wanted to continue playing water polo and do a good study so the best option to do

both was to go to the U.S.A,” Grandi said. “I knew RCC because Leonardo, a former RCC player, came here before and advised me.”

Once Grandi decided to travel abroad to continue playing and learning, he became nervous about his relationship with his team and his host family. After he got here, though, he felt very welcomed by everyone. 

“My teammates were very cool with me,” Grandi said. “I was afraid for the place where I would live but it’s very nice, the family is very good so I was happy.” 

After adjusting to his new surroundings and way of living, Grandi noticed many differences between water polo in France versus in the U.S. He said practices are faster and more intense here. In contrast, the defense is harder in France, and they don’t have as many practices. Though, one thing stood out more than the rest to Grandi. 

“Water polo in the United States considers you a true athlete,” Grandi said. “So we train like real athletes and we have a team following us to help us whether it’s for the doctors (athletic trainers) or the school counselor.”

Grandi is happy to be on a new team and feels that they have positively impacted his experience in the U.S. His teammates have also expressed how Grandi has positively affected the team and described him as a key playmaker. 

“Louis is one of our main scorers and playmakers on our team,” Tommy Dempsey, a teammate of Grandi, said. “He is one of our smartest players.”

Seth Zarn, another player on the RCC water polo team, believes Grandi is a fantastic player. 

“When he’s in the water he’s a monster,” Zarn said. “And as a player he’s different from the rest because of his love for the game. Even though he’s hard to understand sometimes his drive to win is very clear.”

Outside of training, Grandi’s teammates see him as funny and always eager to learn about anything. When asked about any culture shocks he experienced when he came to the U.S., Grandi couldn’t get over the ambiance. 

“I think the grandness of the places and buildings surprised me when I arrived,” Grandi said. “I still enjoy everything I’ve seen like the beaches in Laguna, sunrise and sunset. School campuses and sports are well represented here.”

As Grandi continues to excel in water polo, he is also working hard in academics. Grandi is majoring in administrations and information systems and hopes to transfer to a four year and continue to play at a division one school. 

“I learn more and more in America so for the moment I think I want to stay here and maybe go to a university,” Grandi said. “I would like to try to go to a university that plays division one to continue to play in good conditions.”

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