Huse strikes it big in Lancers program
Above: La Salle’s Kara-Leigh Huse
By Scott Galetti, Staff Writer
While she may collect trophies and other paraphernalia for what she does for her team, and eventually be remembered as the leading scorer in La Salle High School history, Kara-Leigh Huse will mostly be remembered as the player who helped put the Lancers girls water polo team in the water.
Huse, a senior, entered La Salle as a wide-eyed freshman with high hopes of building the fledgling water polo program into a legitimate force.
While she may never earn a CIF-Southern Section championship ring, Huse can be linked to the growth of the program.
“The program first started up her freshman year and I think she had a lot to do with it,” La Salle coach Stephen Aguayo said.
Huse’s support of a burgeoning Lancers program isn’t a coincidence.
Her mom, Jennie Jacobsen-Huse, is the girls coach at Pasadena High School and part of the first Bulldogs team assembled.
“My class started water polo at PHS and we got Temple City, Muir and Blair to play when it wasn’t an official sport,” Jacobsen-Huse said.
Like her mother, Huse had her hand in the Lancers’ program.
“Kara-Leigh had the same opportunity to be a pioneer at La Salle High School,” Jacobsen-Huse said. “It’s kind of neat because she carried on as a pioneer in water polo.”
Huse has been playing water polo since she was 9 years old and tagged along with her mother while Jacobsen-Huse coached her teams.
According to Jacobsen-Huse, her daughter became accustomed to the water in a hurry and quickly honed her skills as a water polo player.
“She’s pretty much passed up my skills and she’s become a very smart player who learns very quickly,” Jacobsen-Huse said.
Huse had the opportunity to play for her mother at Pasadena, but opted for the cozier setting at La Salle.
“I wanted to stay in a smaller school in high school and I liked La Salle, so I chose to go there,” Huse said. “Pasadena’s such a big school and I think I learn better in a smaller setting.”
It’s apparent that Huse, the Prep League MVP the past two seasons, has been a big fish in a small pool since opting to play for La Salle.
A four-year varsity player, Huse scored 148 goals last season and was named to the Division III All-CIF first team.
She entered this week with 25 goals in five games.
Huse’s scoring output this season is impressive given the fact that her role on defense has become more important.
“She is such a well-rounded player on both sides of the ball and we have her playing the most difficult position on defense (two-meter guard),” Aguayo said. “The whole offense revolves around her and she scores about 85 percent of our goals.”
Added Huse: “(Defense) is what I’ve mostly worked on the last couple of years and I know it helps my team even though I’m being recognized for scoring.”
Huse honed her skills participating on the swimming and water polo teams at Commerce Aquatics, where her mother is a lifeguard instructor.
Huse was the MVP of the 2006 Junior Olympics 16-and-under team and was on the first team this year for the 18-and-under squad.
The hard work and dedication that Huse has put into the La Salle program has not gone unnoticed.
Following her graduation, Huse, who wants to go to fashion design school after college, will be making the jump from La Salle to USC where she will play for the Trojans’ women’s team.
“I was being recruited by UCLA, Cal, USC and a couple of smaller schools, and I decided that, for college, I wanted to play for a top-level water polo team,” Huse said. “I know I’ll be in a bigger school, but I know I’ll be in a smaller classroom setting.”
Added Jacobsen-Huse: “I’m really proud of her. She’s worked very hard and (attending USC) is a wonderful opportunity for her.”
Huse’s immediate opportunity is to lead her high school team as far as it can go under Aguayo, who took over for Sara Gilbert.
“We’re all getting used to having a male coach and adjusting well,” Huse said. “We’re excited about this year and I think we’re going to do pretty well.”