Water polo Olympic medalist has Grass Valley connection
August 11, 2012
Once all the excitement settles from the United States women’s water polo team’s 8-5 domination of Spain in the London Olympics, team member Lauren Wenger will bring her gold medal back to her Alta Sierra home and her husband, Nevada County native Geoff Trapani.
Trapani, a 27-year-old Cal Fire firefighter and 2003 Nevada Union High School graduate, met Wenger, a Long Beach native, in 2004, said Ann Trapani, a Lake Wildwood resident and mother of Geoff Trapani.
“She’s an amazing girl,” Ann Trapani said.
Wenger, 28, and Geoff Trapani have lived part time in Nevada County because Wenger travels and trains so frequently, said Mark Trapani, Wenger’s father-in-law.
“She’s been doing this six days a week for four years,” Trapani said.
The London Olympics are not Wenger’s first foray into the global games. She was also a member of the 2008 team that took a silver medal in Beijing, losing out on gold to Hungary.
The U.S. has long been a power in women’s water polo, but the Americans had never translated their success in other major competitions to the Olympics, finishing third in 2004 and also taking second in 2000.
Wenger broke her hand in the Beijing semifinals and was unable to play in the championship bout against Hungary, Trapani said.
“She always felt like if she could have been there, maybe things would have been different,” Ann Trapani said. “So she came to London with a vengeance.”
Six other veterans and a talented batch of new players joined Wenger in London.
Ann and Mark Trapani were glued to the television as Wenger’s team battled through an 11-9 semifinal win over rival Australia in overtime to advance the Americans to the gold medal match with Spain.
“I have never been more nervous in my entire life,” Ann Trapani said. “I was a nervous wreck. I have never yelled at the television so much.”
While water polo may not be as well known in the U.S. as in other competing countries, Mark Trapani said he ranks the accomplishment of Wenger and her teammates above the NBA championship and NFL Super Bowl, which are only domestic championships.
“You have step back a little bit,” Mark Trapani said. “You don’t think it’s that big a deal, but you need a Super Bowl just to get to the Olympics.”
Trapani was disappointed that NBC’s coverage didn’t provide introductions of the players or cover the awards ceremony.
At the same time, he acknowledges that he wasn’t much of a water polo fan until Wenger came into his life.
“It’s a pretty cool game now that I understand it and know all the rules,” Trapani said. “I’ve never rooted for anything that hard.”
Geoff Trapani and Lauren Wenger, who were not yet back in the U.S., could not be reached for comment.
To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email to crosacker@ theunion.com or call (530) 477-4236.