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Luckily for Kostas Genidounias, life gives out opportunities for redemption.After taking the long road to USC from Greece and missing five weeks with a broken finger last season, life is pretty good now for the 6-foot-1 sophomore driver.Firepower · Sophomore driver Kostas Genidounias was the Trojans’ third-leading scorer with 31 goals in 2011, despite missing five games after breaking his finger. This year, he has already tallied seven goals in four games. – Ralf Cheung | Daily TrojanUSC is favored to win its fifth consecutive NCAA men’s water polo title this season, and Genidounias is helping lead the way as one of the Trojans’ most potent offensive threats. Yet all of this once seemed like a distant dream for the Athens native.Genidounias started playing water polo at age seven, and by 13, he was training with the Greek national team.His parents, Sofaklis and Lilly, wanted him and his three siblings to attend school abroad, so he attended the American Community School of Athens starting in the eighth grade.His rise to being one of Greece’s top amateur water polo prospects became Genidounias’s ticket to an American education. He had his sights set on USC.“[Genidounias] called me out of the blue and said he wanted to be a Trojan,” USC coach Jovan Vavic said.Unfortunately, Vavic was out of scholarships when recruiting Genidounias. During his senior year of high school, Genidounias waited for the phone call that never came. He emailed Vavic but received news that he wouldn’t be able to attend USC during the 2010-11 academic year.Nonetheless, Genidounias remained steadfast in his desire to go to USC. So even when Loyola Marymount called and offered him a full ride, he turned it down.He stayed in Greece and continued to play water polo for his club team and the Greek National Under-18 squad.Then came his breakout performance at the European Youth Championships in Germany during August 2010. Though Greece lost 12-13 to Italy in the championship match, Genidounias was named the tournament’s MVP and vaulted himself onto the radar of Vavic and the nation’s other top college water polo coaches.In October 2010, despite having no interactions since the previous spring, Genidounias contacted Vavic again.In this case, the second time was the charm. Genidounias’ improvement combined with available scholarships meant that the USC dream would work out after all.After high school graduation, Genidounias’ days consisted of playing water polo for his U-18 club team.“It was nice,” Genidounias said. “Who doesn’t want to have some time off?” Genidounias said.But his mood quickly changed.“At some point it became boring … I’m glad I got to come here,” Genidounias said.Genidounias’ success in the pool continued once he reached USC. Being a bit of an unknown commodity to opponents as an international player, Genidounias flew under the radar for five games.In his sixth game as a true freshman, he scored five goals in a 10-8 victory over UCLA in the championship match of the NorCal Tournament in Stockton, Calif.“When UCLA played us, they had no idea who he was,” said captain and senior two-meter Matt Burton. “The five goals changed that pretty quick.”After that, Genidounias was not left open often. But, he still continued to have success thanks to his versatility.“Kostas is one of the extremely rare players who’s an extremely good shooter and a great passer,” Vavic said.Burton echoed these sentiments with a basketball analogy.“Kostas is like a point guard and shooting guard rolled into one,” Burton said. “He has great vision, can make a play from nothing and is just too dangerous as a pass-first guy.”Genidounias finished third on the team with 31 goals last season and is currently second through four games with seven goals.What’s even more intimidating for opponents is Genidounias is now at full health.His counting statistics at season’s end would have been much greater if he hadn’t missed five games after breaking his finger in a midseason match against California.Water polo is a sport where using both hands is crucial for balance and strength in the water. With his broken finger, Genidounias’ left hand essentially became useless.“I did nothing with my left hand for four to five weeks after the injury,” Genidounias said. “All I could do was swim with one hand and work on my legs.”Though Genidounias wanted to return as soon as possible, he wasn’t in top shape when he returned just in time for the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament and the NCAA Final Four that followed.“In some ways, it was a good thing,” Vavic said about Genidounias’ injury. “Kostas needed a break from water polo after playing all year, during the summer and the season.”Back from injury, 2012 is Kostas’ time to shine. Though Vavic and Genidounias agree his defense still needs work, his offensive abilities are already giving opponents fits.“On offense, the sky is pretty much the limit [for him],” Burton said.With Greece in ongoing economic turmoil, Genidounias has gained extra motivation and appreciation for the sport that helped bring him to Southern California.“Everyone’s so jealous in a good way that I’m here, and I’m really doing something good for my future,” Genidounias said.
Tuesday Music: Xtreme P Youth Forum and concert What: The city of Palmdale is hosting a free community youth forum for residents ages 13-25. Participants will be able to enjoy free pizza, a live concert by Starter Kit and the chance to win great prizes. The “Xtreme P” event is designed to provide Palmdale’s young citizens an opportunity to voice their opinions regarding their community. For more information, please call (661) 267-5115. When: 3:30-5:30 p.m. Where: Larry Chimbole Cultural Center, 38350 Sierra Highway, Palmdale When: This event takes place on 5/8/2007. Meetings: Memorial events planning meeting What: The Antelope Valley Service Organization Association will meet to plan upcoming ceremonies for Memorial Day, Flag Day, POW/MIA Remembrance and Veterans Day. All Antelope Valley community service organization representatives are invited to attend to help plan these events. For more information, contact Heidi Valdez at the Palmdale Senior Center at (661) 267-5596 or [email protected] When: 6 p.m. Where: Palmdale Senior Center, 1002 E. Ave. Q-12, Palmdale Wednesday Meetings: Eye Openers Toastmasters meeting What: You can order a great breakfast and enjoy a great Toastmasters meeting. A great way to improve your speaking and listening skills as well as leadership skills. For more information, e-mail [email protected] or call (661) 948-1979. When: 7-8:30 a.m. Where: Crazy Otto’s, 1228 W. Ave I, Lancaster Clubs: Let’s Eat Out Dinner What: J & J Social and Travel Club will host a “Let’s Eat Out” dinner with an optional movie following. For reservations, call (661) 267-2586. When: 5:30 p.m. Where: Johnny Carino’s Italian Restaurant, 1173 Rancho Vista Blvd., W. Palmdale Thursday Theater: Palmdale City Players showcase What: The Palmdale City Players will present their fourth annual “Spotlight Theatre” presentation, featuring student-produced one-act versions of Shakespeare’s comedies by the Youth Troupe with a matinee performance on Saturday. Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for seniors, military, students and youth. For more information, or to order tickets, call the box office at (661) 267-5685 or visit www.ThePalmdalePlayhouse.com. When: 7:30 p.m. today, 2 p.m. Saturday Where: The Palmdale Playhouse, 38334 10th Street East, Palmdale Friday Government: Peace vigil What: Join us for a candlelight peace vigil every Friday. Bring candles/flashlights/signs. We start with daylight and end without. For more information contact [email protected] or [email protected] When: 5-6 p.m. Where: Corner of 30th St West and Ave I, site of the future Veterans Hospital Theater: Palmdale City Players showcase What: The Palmdale City Players will present their fourth annual “Spotlight Theatre” presentation, featuring The Adult Troupe performing original comedy one-act plays and sketches on Friday and Saturday, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for seniors, military, students and youth. For more information, or to order tickets, call the box office at (661) 267-5685 or visit www.ThePalmdalePlayhouse.com. When: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday Where: The Palmdale Playhouse, 38334 10th Street East, Palmdale Clubs: Games snack night What: J&J Social and Travel Club will have a cards, po-keno and other games at its snack night. Bring food and a beverage to share. For information, call (661) 267-2586 or (661) 723-3237. When: 7 p.m. Where: The home of Joanne Marshall, 42941 15th St., West, Unit #5, Lancaster Saturday Clubs: Italian potluck and dance What: J&J Social and Travel Club will have an Italian potluck and dance party. Bring a main dish, salad or dessert and a beverage to share. Dance music will be provided by DJ Joanne. For information, call (661) 267-2586 or (661) 945-1217. When: 7 p.m. Where: The home of Laura Anderson, 44533 Lowtree Avenue, West, Lancaster May 13 Theater: Special Mother’s Day performance at playhouse What: The Palmdale Playhouse will feature a special Mother’s Day celebration with Showstoppers, a dance troupe that includes four former members of Dean Martin’s famous “Golddiggers” singers and dancers and Dean Martin impersonator Steve Apple. Tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for seniors, military, students and youth. For more information, or to order tickets, contact the Palmdale Playhouse box office at (661) 267-5685 or visit www.ThePalmdalePlayhouse.com When: 2 p.m. Where: The Palmdale Playhouse, 38334 10th Street East, Palmdale 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Sunday Religion: Deliverance and healing revival What: Lighthouse Miracle Christian Center is a place where everyone is someone and Jesus Christ is everything. Every Sunday in May we will be having a deliverance and healing revival under the leadership of Pastor Dr. C.Y. Brooks. When: 4-6 p.m. Where: 39110 10th Street East, Palmdale Theater: Travelogue Series: Canada What: The Palmdale Playhouse concludes its 2006-2007 Travelogue Series with “Canada’s National Parks.” Filmmaker Dale Johnson will take audience members on an odyssey through 21 Canadian parks and some of the most unspoiled scenery and untamed wilderness in North America. Tickets are $5 from the Palmdale Playhouse box office. When: 2 p.m. Where: The Palmdale Playhouse, 38334 10th Street East, Palmdale