FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) – A let down for a Redwood High School senior hoping to make a big splash on the water polo team this season – but it’s his actions out of the water that earned him a nomination for outstanding character.

“I was really disappointed in the fact that we couldn’t play,” said senior Sam Felsted.

The water polo team at Redwood High in Visalia put in the practice this season but never got to compete.

“There is definitely a sense of accomplishment, and I am proud of what I have done as a water polo player in high school.”

But there is also a sense of emptiness of what could have been. Sam Felsted would have lettered for a fourth year – but the COVID-19 pandemic prevented that from happening.

The team still put in practice time, but it was Sam’s actions the year before that earned him this recognition for great character by his coach. Sam was up for the MVP award as a junior. The entire team votes and the players are allowed to vote for themselves. Sam’s vote was the tie breaker – and instead of voting for himself, he chose to vote his senior teammate as MVP.

“But he acknowledged to him self that he was a junior and that there was someone in a position that was greater than he was at that moment and it is that kind of foresight that exposes his character and that’s what we got out of it,” explained Coach Rogers.

Sam says it was an easy decision.

“That team was such a family, especially that year. We all came together. We worked hard and had a lot of close games. A lot of close fights and I feel like Josh was a big motivator for us. He was always a captain and always yelling for us to keep going.”

Sam is heading Cuesta College where he’ll play on the water polo team. Coach Rogers says he’ll be a leader there like he was at Redwood.

“Character is far more important than being an MVP on a team and it probably doesn’t always feel that way when you’re young a young person. But in the reality of the real world, which they are all headed for after their senior year, that is a powerful move in where I think life is taking Sam.”