Written by Dave Dulberg, USC blog contributor
For any teenager in college, the father-daughter relationship can be complicated. When the father also happens to be your head coach, that's a whole different story.
Freshman driver Monica Vavic (pictured below by the Daily Breeze) is currently living that reality during her first year on the USC women's water polo team, as her father, 10-time National Coach of the Year Jovan Vavic, looks to guide the Women of Troy to their second NCAA title in three years.
"I really like having my dad as the coach, because growing up I had several different coaches, but whenever I needed questions or had advice I'd go to him," Monica Vavic said. "Even when I wasn't playing for him, his advice and guidance always took precedence. So, it's kind of nice having him as my only voice now. It also helps that I love playing under his system and style of coaching, not to mention I have the utmost respect for him."
That familiarity between father and daughter has helped the duo lead the Trojans to an 11-2 start and a No. 2 national ranking. Through 13 games, the freshman has tallied 17 goals and five multi-goal games.
"I knew from the time I was young that I would only play for him if I played collegiate water polo," she said. "I would never want to compete against him, and so growing up I always prepared like I was his player, and he was my coach. That preparation has really been a big key for me in terms of adapting to playing under him at USC."
While the 18-year-old admits her close connection with his father is built on their love of water polo, she also says their relationship is strong outside the pool.
"I have a really good relationship with both my parents," said Vavic. "Because I live only 30 minutes away, often times I go home a lot to spend time with my family. It's not hard for me to separate between me being his player and being his daughter. It's nice for both of us."
Monica isn't the only sibling to play under her award-winning father (pictured right by Backstop Images). Her brother, sophomore driver Nikola Vavic, just finished his second season at Troy with 41 goals and another National Championship trophy to add to the family mantle. But the youngest Vavic isn't intimidated by her well-established namesake. If anything, she says it serves as a form of motivation.
"My older brother is a fantastic water polo player," said Vavic. "In a lot of ways it's nice to have everyone come up to me and remind me of how good he is, because without seeing me play, they've already created high expectations for me just because of my last name. It actually allows me to then set higher expectations for myself."
Although the freshman is certainly making her own splash in the pool playing multiple positions at a high level for the Women of Troy in 2012, Vavic has no problem just being another member of her highly-decorated family.
"I don't see it as a point of rebellion," said Vavic. "It's honestly an amazing opportunity to play for a coach like him, not to mention I get to spend time with my father. I've wanted to play for him since I was young and now the chance is finally here."