Prep of the Year Honorable Mention: Charlie Mills

Lily Reese

As water splashes and fans cheer from the bleachers, senior Charlie Mills treads calmly in the goal prepared for anything that comes his way. With an incredible 547 saves in his four years as goalkeeper of the boy’s varsity water polo team, Mills is undoubtedly a skilled player. Being declared the 2022 Marin County Athletic League Player of the Year and making the 2022 Men’s Youth National Water Polo Team as goalkeeper are just some of his most recent accomplishments. Mills’ successes are the results of the dedication and training he has pursued since he first began water polo at seven years old.

Beaming at the camera, Mills poses with friends on signing day. (Photo courtesy of Ani Svednson)

“I started playing when I was in first grade because of my uncle, who played at the University of California, Los Angeles. I always loved being in the water and wanted to be just like him,” Mills said.

    From first admiring the sport, to now absolutely dominating it, Mills is often congratulated for his athletic endeavors. He has been recognized throughout the past four high school seasons, and to finish off his senior year, Mills was awarded the title 1st Team for All-North Coast Section for the 2022-23 season. Yet despite these achievements, his favorite memories are not winning, but the relationships he’s built on the team. 

“I enjoy playing with my best friends every day, hanging out with them and playing a sport that we all love,” Mills said. 

Rudy Kardos, head coach of the boys’ varsity water polo team, reflected on Mills’ impact on the team, remembering his best moments with the goalkeeper. Kardos has known Mills for most of his water polo journey and is proud of what Mills has accomplished.           

“A goalie of his caliber and that extroverted personality is a unique combination. The team can rely on him, not just as a goalie, but even if things are not going the right way, he’s usually there to encourage the rest of the team and pump them up. I don’t remember any game, regardless of the outcome, that he would have given up,”

— Kardos

Mills plans on attending the University of Southern California (USC) in the fall of 2023 and will be playing goalie for their Division I water polo team. In a Bark article discussing Mills along with two other water polo commits, he gives credit to his team members for aiding him through the recruitment process. 

“I think all of us help each other when we hop in the pool and shoot at each other. It’s an iron-sharpens-iron situation [in the pool],” Mills said. 

Mills wanted a similar environment in college where his teammates are not only skilled athletes but will push him to be a better goalie too. This is one of the reasons he chose USC since he saw the same comradery on their team.

 “I chose the University of Southern California since it [has a] strong culture, and they are success[ful] in water polo,” Mills said.

 Kardos is also excited about Mill’s future on USC’s highly competitive team and looks forward to what Mills will be able to accomplish. 

“Coming from high school to college that first year can always go many different directions. It’s a big adjustment. But again, if anybody can make it as smooth as possible, that’s [Mills]. So I’m really looking forward to following his growth and career going forward,” Kardos said.