|Born:||August 19, 1984|
|Ht: / Wt:||5'6" / 155 lbs|
|Event(s):||Women's water polo|
Model role model
Patty Cardenas' friend and role model on the national team is Brenda Villa. Cardenas' parents, Josefina and Alfredo, and Villa's parents, Rosario and Ines, hail from the same small village, Tecalitlan, Mexico, and migrated north to California before settling in Commerce, a blue-collar suburb of Los Angeles. The two girls honed their swimming and water polo skills at the city's aquatic center, under the guidance of coaches Bobby Contreras and Gabriel Martinez. She credits the two for keeping her in shape and out of trouble, as she had to maintain good grades in school to use the facility.
Cardenas' water polo career began at Bell Gardens High, where her teams posted a win-loss record of 117-3 over her four years and four straight Division III state titles. She was named co-MVP twice and was a first-team All-American three times. Despite her success, she was overlooked by major programs and opted to enroll at Golden West Community College in Huntington Beach. It was there that her all-around game grabbed the attention of USC coach Jovan Vavic.
Cardenas made an immediate impact on the Trojans' water polo team, scoring 40 goals during the 2006 season. Currently on leave-of-absence while she trains with the women's national team, she is on pace to graduate from USC in 2009 with a major in sociology.
Key cog from Commerce
Cardenas has become an integral part of U.S. head coach Guy Baker's hard-swimming system a successful tryout in May 2006. At the 2007 World Championships, she scored four goals, and added three more at the 2007 Pan American Games, where the U.S. qualified for Beijing.
Coach for a day
Once at a team function, Cardenas and teammate Brittany Hayes had some fun at head coach Guy Baker and assistant coach Kyle Kopp's expense. The two players donned khaki pants and matching polo shirts and Hayes added glasses and re-enacted a scene with the coaches following their win at the 2007 World Championships. Hayes was happy to report that the comic act went over well with everyone, including the two coaches.
Cardenas lost an avid poolside supporter when father, Alfredo, suffered a stroke while Patty was in high school. Alfredo and the Cardenas family were dealt another when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Fortunately, the cancer has gone into remission after radiation therapy and his health is improving. Patty and her two brothers, Jose and Ivan, have provided support as only a close-knit family can.
All Olympic merchandise is marked down. Act now, because when it's gone…it's gone!