Stephanie Johnson Possell, our original founder of Orlando Thunder, has been coaching and teaching since 1989, has over 1000 Career Wins and reached her 500th win with Olympia High School in 2020. She has built programs that are regularly at the top of the podium, focusing on fundamental skill and water polo IQ. Leading her teams to win gold medals at high school and age-group levels, she has also been awarded PA State Coach of the Year, Spectrum All Sport Central Florida Coach of the Year, several USAWP Coach of the Year awards, and many Metro Coach of the Year awards. She has developed numerous athletes to become All Americans and Academic All Americans. Stephanie has been part of the USAWP ODP Developmental Program and a coach in the selection process for the Junior National teams. She is most proud of how many athletes continue to play in college at the varsity and club levels, athletes that grow into coaches, and now is excited about the opportunity to coach second generation water polo athletes. Coach Possell believes being academically successful is as important as being athletically successful.
Jen Dailer was named MVP and All American during her senior year in HS and played in Junior Olympics and Junior Nationals for 3 years. She continued on to the University of Maryland to play collegiate water polo, playing in the Women’s Collegiate National Water Polo Championships each year. After UM, she continued to play masters, founded the FAU water polo club, and coached Tulane water polo for one season. Jen has coached the junior camp held at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO and taught kids how to play in a tiny town of Alaska. Jen has been Head Coach of West Orange High School since 2011 and has been coaching with Orlando Thunder since November 2021.
Stephen Stebbins is back in action both playing with Orlando Thunder’s Masters team and coaching our Juniors. In high school, he was an All American while playing for West Orange. He then continued on to play at the University of Florida. After graduation he returned home and became the Assistant Coach at West Orange High School and later was an Assistant Coach with Olympia High School in 2009-2010 with Coach Possell. After taking a water polo hiatus, we are excited to add Coach Steve back to our team!
Alec Johnson helped secure a state FHSAA Championship with Olympia High School and, as a freshman, won the NCAA Division 1 Championship with UCLA. He has played with some of the top clubs in CA, played in ODP during his High School career, and was named as a 3-time All American. Alec has been coaching with Orlando Thunder for the past two years and brings a level of experience in big games and skill in the pool that we are fortunate to have in our coaching staff. Alec's knowledge of the game and his ability to break down and teach skills to players ranging from beginners to top level athletes are valuable assets to our program.
Marcela Herrera played Division 1 Water Polo at Bucknell University after winning the High School State Championship with Olympia High School. As a High School athlete Marcela was a NISCA All American and Olympia High School Athlete of the Year. In college she earned ACSPC- All Academic Team all four years and was selected to the All CWPA Conference team her senior year. Marcela has been coaching with us on breaks throughout college. This summer she will be home before attending Tulane University School of Medicine in the Fall. Soon to be Dr. Herrera is one of the best technicians we have ever had in the pool, and she does a great job breaking down skills to teach to our younger athletes.
Coach Linn has been coaching with Olympia since 2011 and was an inaugural Orlando Thunder Coach. Linn has produced 5 All Americans and two team State Championships. Coach Linn is our Head Goalie Coach and her multiple sport experience makes her an excellent game play strategist. She has worked with National USAWP Coach Sean Nolan to help select Junior National team goalies. She started her water polo coaching career at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs where she was an Olympic Team Athletic Trainer.
Rachel Carnevale started playing water polo at Olympia High School and was an Orlando Thunder original. She went on to play varsity water polo in college for Gannon University in PA, graduating as a four-year athlete with a degree in Exercise Science. Coach Rachel started coaching for Orlando Thunder in 2016 and was an assistant coach for Olympia High School while earning several championships, one of those being a State Championship. She has been an ODP Holiday Camp Coach and has traveled to California with our Junior Olympic Teams.
Braden Fisk started his water polo career at the age of fourteen as a freshman at Davis High School. There he participated in both swimming and water polo all four years with two years at the varsity level & competed in four Junior Olympic tournaments. After high school he went on to play for the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo club team for four years, ending his playing career as President in 2014. Braden had the honor of coaching the CWPA’s ‘Team of the Decade’ Women’s Club Water Polo 2012-2015, helping the team earn their spot at nationals twice. He was asked to coach the Cal Poly Men’s Club Water Polo team during his last year in 2015, bringing the team to 2nd in the Pacific Coast division. Once Braden graduated, he moved to Southern California & began coaching 12U / 14U for South Coast Aquatics in Thousand Oaks. He believes sports can be one of the greatest teachers of life lessons and character and aims to help players realize their full potential as people and athletes.
Sydney Fisk started playing water polo at the age of 8 with Legacy Water Polo in Monterey, CA. She was a pioneer in helping establish the area’s women’s club water polo team and played co-ed for 2 years under Olympian and hall-of-fame inductee Gary Figueroa. Born and raised in California, Sydney continued to compete in both swimming and water polo through high school including 4 years of varsity, receiving Academic All American in her senior year. During her summers she worked as a CA State Parks Lifeguard while playing club water polo and competing in Junior Olympics. She then went on to play for the Cal Poly Women’s Club Water Polo team where she competed on the National team for two consecutive years as a main starter. As a coach, Sydney believes that fundamentals are the base of a strong player and looks forward to helping players grow as both athletes and individuals.
Emily Diacono started playing water polo at twelve years old for SETWPC in Southern California. She played Division I at Fresno State from 2018-2022 where she helped the Bulldogs win back-to-back conference championships and earn two trips to the NCAA tournament. Coached by 2x-Olympian Natalie Benson, Dio learned an abundance of technical and tactical skills that she implemented as a center defender at the collegiate level. While attending college, she earned her undergraduate degree in Kinesiology Exercise Science and became a 4x Academic All American. She has experience coaching various levels of club and high school water polo in the Central Valley and SoCal. Her passion for water polo comes from her older siblings, Alyssa and Matthew, who played Division I water polo at San Diego State and Cal Baptist, respectfully. She is pursuing her strength and conditioning accreditation in hopes of becoming a collegiate strength coach.
Allison DeCicco Division 1 Varsity athlete at George Washington University returns home to help coach Orlando Thunder. Allison was a High School State Silver Medalist playing key leadership and defensive roles for the team. She also represented the Southeast Zone in ODP and has been coaching with us whenever she has been home on break. Allison graduated from GW with her master’s in computer science and is currently working as a Software Engineer. She has been working with our 12U and 14U teams this spring and will help out with all our teams when she is available. We are excited to have Coach Allison back in Florida.
Griffin Ewoldt was a High School State Champion at the Center position for Olympia High School. Griffin is a smart player who makes things happen in the pool by his game awareness. This will be his second season as one of our primary coaches for our 14 U team. Griffin’s patience in the water and knowledge of the game make him a great coach and addition to our team. Currently Griffin is the Vice President of the FAU Water Polo Team helping to build that program. Griffin easily builds a good rapport with other coaches, parents and athletes and is a great role model for our players.
Saahil Naik attended Olympia High School where he was a High School State Champion his senior year. He recently graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in Biology on the Pre-Med track with minors in African Studies and International Development and Humanitarian Assistance. He was a 4-year member of the UF Water Polo team and played at the NCAA Division 1 level as the starting goalie at the Brown University Bruno Classic this year. He has coached for Gator Water Polo Club for several years and served as the goalie coach for two Gainesville high schools. He plans to pursue a Master’s of Public Health and coach as a Graduate Assistant Coach next year. He looks forward to continuing coaching and sharing his experiences with athletes this summer.