Student Features

PA Cyber student making waves in national water polo

Feb 8, 2017

Miles Mattson

Miles Mattson

A PA Cyber eighth-grader who has been playing water polo for less than a year was selected to the USA Water Polo Olympic Development Program.

Miles Mattson, 14, of Wexford, Pa. will be competing for the Great Lakes Zone, which consists of Western Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan. The ODP National Championships will take place Feb 24-26 in Northern California's Tri-Valley.

"I was so excited because I'd been working out a lot" Miles said. "When I was chosen, I was so thankful my hard work paid off."

Sixteen teams representing various regions of the U.S., for each age grouping, will compete in the tournament. Miles will be playing for the Cadet team, boys who are age 15 in 2017, or born in 2002.

Miles, who stands at 5-foot-11, began playing in March 2016 on the Tiger Water Polo team at North Allegheny High School under coach Nikola Malezanov. 

He attended two selection camps for the Great Lakes Zone, one in Pittsburgh in December and one in Ann Arbor, Mich. in January. Based on those two camps, coaches made their decisions and offered Miles a spot on the team.

"To say he was excited is an understatement," said Miles' dad, Charles Mattson, who credits his hard work, enthusiasm and the "great coaches on his club team" for helping Miles make the Olympic Development program.

Last weekend, Miles traveled to Bowling Green, Ohio for team practices.

Miles' parents, Charles and Lorreen Mattson, believe PA Cyber has contributed to their son's growth. He is able to fit in swimming workouts in the mornings before his classes. If Miles attended a brick and mortar school, however, he would have to catch the bus during that time, his dad said.

For years, Miles has enjoyed the ArtReach classes that PA Cyber offers, particularly the Stage Combat classes taught by Shaun Rolly. The classes involve choreographed body movements, techniques that Miles enjoys learning. As a result of the classes, Miles has been able to pick up a lot of the technique that is involved in water polo.

Miles previously took up fencing, but wanted to do something more strenuous. Last fall, the North Allegheny team allowed interested students to come out for practice and Miles enjoyed it. He described water polo as wrestling in the water.

He plays center defender in water polo, a key position that is closest to the goal where the player's job is to block passes and shots. The role involves a lot of grappling and wrestling, which has parallels to what he has been taught in Stage Combat.

"A lot of it is due to the PA Cyber ArtReach," Miles said. "Mr. Rolly, he's inspired me to really do whatever I want. I decided to do water polo."

Miles' future plans are to study rocket science or astronomy.

The USA Water Polo Olympic Development Program serves as the primary feeder system for the USA Water Polo Youth, Cadet and Development National Teams. The program exists to identify and prepare athletes to represent USAWP in domestic and international competition, according to the program's website. Participants can learn fundamental water polo skills from highly qualified coaches while training and playing with other top athletes in the nation. They also can earn the opportunity to play on a USA Water Polo National Team.

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About PA Cyber

Serving students in kindergarten through 12th grade, the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School (PA Cyber) is one of the largest, most experienced, and most successful online public schools in the nation. PA Cyber's online learning environments, personalized instructional methods, and choices of curricula connect Pennsylvania students and their families with state-certified and highly-qualified teachers, and rich academic content that is aligned to state standards. Founded in 2000, PA Cyber is headquartered in Midland (Beaver County) and maintains a network of support offices throughout the state. As a public school, PA Cyber is open for enrollment by any school-age child residing in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and does not charge tuition to students or families.