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Water polo standout Steffens thrives as Olympian, entrepreneur

By Kerston Corns, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication | July 29, 2021, 11:22 p.m. (ET)

U.S. water polo athlete Margaret Steffens holds the ball aloft in a match against China at the 2020 Olympic Games.

As a three-time NCAA champion and two-time Olympian, Maggie Steffens (Stanford, water polo) has already built an impressive resume. 

And it’s clear she’s not done.

She hopes to grow the sport of water polo through Team USA’s visibility in Tokyo, and through 6-8 Sports, the company she co-founded with Stanford alumnus and five-time Olympian Tony Azevedo.

Steffens has played a key role in the success of the U.S women’s water polo program. It won gold in 2012 and 2016 and only suffered its first defeat since 2008 Wednesday against Hungary  in a preliminary round. It plays the Russian Olympic Committee on Friday.

Her company, 6-8 Sports, offers athletes a chance to train with Steffens and Azevedo in Southern California at the first high performance training academy for water polo in the U.S.. The company also brings players of different backgrounds from around the world together through the 6-8 app, where athletes can analyze their fundamental skill levels, improve game performance and track game statistics. 

Even though it’s been quite the journey for Steffens, managing a company while still training as an Olympic athlete, she is grateful she might have the opportunity to shape the future of the sport. 
“It’s been pretty amazing to have those co-exist, to be able to see the growth of our sport and be able to revolutionize water polo … providing equal access and opportunity to these kids,” she said, “I’m really grateful for Tony and Sara Azevedo and the whole 6-8 team for helping run the company while I’m focused on my goal and my team, too, as part of this Olympic team.”
If anyone has the determination and drive to revolutionize the sport of water polo, most believe Azevedo and Steffens are the two to do it. 

“Tony and Maggie's Olympic background has instilled in them a sense of hard work, diligence and resilience,” said 6-8 director of sports Sara Azevedo. “As leaders of their respective teams, they have had to learn how to manage a group of different personalities, how to set goals, and how to work tirelessly to achieve results. They have learned how to fail and how to bounce back and to continue to try new strategies.”

On its site, the company says its mission is “to accelerate growth and exposure in developing sports through our revolutionary development system that unites standardized metrics, live-game tracking and advanced data analytics.”
“It’s been amazing to have 6-8 Sports, which has the same mission even as women’s water polo really, (which) is to grow the sport and continue to develop young athletes and help them reach their full potential and reach their dreams just as our team was fortunate to reach our dream,” Steffens said.
As an example of someone who chose to believe nothing was out of reach, Steffens wants to send this message to young players:

“Don’t be shy of greatness if you have a dream. Put your whole self, put your whole heart into it.”


Kerston Corns, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication

Kerston Corns is a journalism student at Arizona State University. This story is part of a collaboration between the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee and ASU's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

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