Hoover's hero sets standard

Hakop Kaplanyan injected life into not only Tornadoes water polo program, but electrified school's entire athletic spirit

December 31, 2011|By Grant Gordon,
(Tim Berger/Staff…)

He was a scoring frenzy, a one-man tour de force who raised the level of those around him, ignited the sporting spirit of a campus long absent of much to get excited about and made literal and figurative waves by lifting a historically struggling program to CIF prominence while leaving his statistical signature upon state chronicle.

A 6-foot, 185-pound muscled phenom with a lighting bolt for a right arm, he took a lightly regarded program and put it on the map.

Along the way of four seasons of scoring parades and CIF triumph, Hoover High senior Hakop Kaplanyan provided record-breaking revelry, clutch histrionics and left a school and an area as a three-time All-Area Boys' Water Polo Player of the Year, as voted for the third consecutive time by the sports editors and writers of the Glendale News-Press, Burbank Leader, La Cañada Valley Sun and Pasadena Sun.

"We were happy to have him here all four years and he made everybody around him good," says Jack Van Patten, Hoover's athletic director. "What he did puts us out there.


"The things he did for Hoover are greatly appreciated."


As the waters have settled upon Kaplanyan's days as a Tornadoes water polo player, the story the numbers tell is certainly staggering.

In his senior season, Kaplanyan led Hoover with team-highs of 139 goals, 103 steals and 47 assists and in three playoffs matches — which added up to a program-first CIF semifinal berth — he scored 19 of his team's 36 goals, including two game-winners.

And during his four seasons with Hoover, his avalanche of scoring tallies added up to 593 career goals, which is second most all-time in both the CIF Southern Section and the state. The number was buoyed by a sophomore season in which Kaplanyan led Hoover to the Division VI quarterfinals and set the Southern Section and state single-season record with 229 goals — a mark that was surpassed this season by Nogales' Nick Estevez, who tallied 233 in leading his team to a Division VII championship.

"His shot's pretty amazing," says teammate David Pogosian.

Along the way, Kaplanyan's been an All-CIF standout four times, a first-team All-Pacific League pick twice and a two-time league most valuable player.

But perhaps more impactful than his mind-spinning individual accolades are those of what his team has achieved with him most assuredly leading the charge.

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