Connor Hoppe scoured the Internet.
He searched for instructional videos and game highlights. The Golden Valley junior studied anything he thought improve his water polo technique.
What most kids naturally develop over the course of a four-year career, Hoppe attempted to cram into a summer.
"Last year was the first time I'd ever played water polo, so I didn't really know what I was doing," Hoppe said. "I just tried to learn the game.
"I spent the summer watching videos, trying to learn moves."
Apparently Hoppe is a quick study.
In his first varsity season Hoppe has become Golden Valley's leading scorer and is among the teams leaders in assists. While his rise to a place among the Central California Conference's elite players has caught many by surprise, Hoppe's sports background did up his learning curve.
The reigning CCC 100 breast stroke champion was already an accomplished swimmer and sprinter, easing him into the water polo transition game.
Years of baseball had given Hoppe a rocket for an arm, and his time spent as a post player in basketball had him prepared for life in the hole set.
His natural 6-foot-3, 200-pound frame hasn't hurt either. Throw in the fact that he was a letter winner in basketball and swimming, and Hoppe was prepared for the leap in pace at the varsity level.
"I've always been a sports guy," Hoppe said. "I get that from my dad. He played tennis in high school and then basketball in college.
"A lot of the things you do in one sport translate into others."
Hoppe's development has given the Cougars one of the top scoring threats in the CCC. Golden Valley (4-5 CCC) started slowly, but has come on in the second half of the conference season.
"We've given ourselves a chance, which is all you can ask for," GV coach Andy Seto said. "I really think this team is peaking at the right time, and a big part of that is Connor.
"The goals he scores are great, but it's his willingness to do whatever the team needs him to do to win that sets him apart.
"I think this whole team has embraced that mentality."
Before the Cougars square off with rival Merced, which clinched the outright CCC title on Thursday, in next week's regular-season finale, they'll get a taste of the playoff-like experience at this weekend's 2012 DeLong Tournament.
The 40-team field is comprised of some of the top teams from around the state and abroad. Other local participants include Merced, Atwater and Livingston. The action gets underway today at Pitman High, Tokay High and Johansen High.
"It's definitely like a little playoff preview because of the quality of the teams and the time of year it happens," Seto said. "We're not really certain what to expect, because we're missing some kids for a band review. We've lost a couple seniors to season-ending injuries, so we're calling up a bunch of JV kids, and we'll see what happens."
Golden Valley is in the B bracket with Sonora and three-time champion Newberg, Ore.
"It should be fun," Hoppe said "I always look forward to a challenge.