SANTA BARBARA - Santa Barbara City College star Annie Ackert is transferring to Hawaii to continue her water polo career.
The former Santa Ynez High standout had an outstanding freshman year for SBCC in 2019. She was the second-leading scorer with 78 goals and third in steals with 41. The Vaqueros were ranked No. 3 in the state with a 30-5 record. They won their sixth straight Western State Conference title before falling 12-7 in the Regional Finals to No. 2 Riverside.
"I chose Hawaii for a few reasons," said Ackert, a 5-7 attacker who plans to major in Health Sciences. "One of the main reasons was that the major I wanted to pursue takes six years to complete at most California schools, so I knew that going out of state would be a good option for me.
"Hawaii was my top choice because of their array of Health Science classes and their competitive women's water polo team. Also, I really enjoy the atmosphere of Hawaii."
Ackert left for Hawaii on Jan. 1 and is currently training with the Rainbow Wahine.
Hawaii has been a powerhouse, compiling a 50-13 record in the last three years. They were ranked No. 3 in the nation and won their first 11 games in 2020, then lost to No. 1 Stanford and No. 2 UCLA before the season was cut short by COVID-19.
"Although I only got to spend three semesters at SBCC, I learned the most that I ever have both in the classroom and in the pool," said Ackert. "Before I played for Coach Chuckie, I was not ready to play at a school like the University of Hawaii. However, after only one season of playing under Coach Chuckie, I learned so much about the game and team dynamic. My teammates became some of my best friends and I am very sad that I did not get to compete with them for another season due to the pandemic."
Ackert will have three seasons of eligibility at Hawaii.
"Annie made a huge impact in a very short amount of time," said Vaquero coach Chuckie Roth, who has a sparkling 131-36 record in seven seasons. "As a freshman, she stepped up big. She was first-team all-conference, first-team all-So Cal and first-team All-American.
"We were anticipating a break-out swim season when COVID hit. Annie would have been a multiple All-American swimmer and would have done great things for our program. This fall when we were sidelined, I called Hawaii Coach Maureen Cole and Annie was all set up to attend this upcoming fall. However since we were shut down and they were practicing, it made sense for her to transfer early.
"This is the best thing for Annie. She is at her dream school playing water polo. In my opinion, this is what Community Colleges are all about. Getting kids to where they want to go. Yes she would have helped our team here if we had a season, but this is what is best for Annie and I could not be more happy. This is one the few great miracles of COVID time.
"I will miss Annie dearly but she is in good hands. She is one of the most polite and hard-working student athletes I have coached at SBCC. Annie always gets along with everyone and plays hard with a smile."
Roth says Ackert will be an attacker at Hawaii and feels she'll have an immediate impact.
"I am sure it will take a little time to catch up as they have been training full-time there," said Roth. "I believe in Annie's Work ethic and determination. I know she will make an impact in and out of the water."
(Dave Loveton, Santa Barbara City College Athletics)