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La Jolla Athlete of the Week: For Mark Stone, ‘it’s finally my moment’ as a senior with Bishop’s water polo

Mark Stone is taking a leadership role as a senior for The Bishop’s School varsity water polo team this season.
Mark Stone, the middle brother of three water polo players, is taking a leadership role as a senior for The Bishop’s School Knights this season.
(Courtesy)

When it comes to brotherly battles in water polo, count on The Bishop’s School senior Mark Stone to be right in the middle.

By age, Stone falls between his older and younger brothers, who play the game as well. So Mark has been a protege of his older sibling, Matt, and a mentor to his younger one, Justin.

Mark also can be found in the middle of the Knights’ attack this season, which they began last month seeking their third consecutive San Diego Section Open Division championship in his fourth varsity season.

“I’ve been looking forward to it since I got into high school,” said Mark, a second-year starter who also belongs to a peer leadership group at school.

“Now it’s finally my moment, being here as a senior, finally stepping into that huge role on water polo and the campus in general.”

Aside from training with their teams, the Stone brothers have been known to mix it up when they work out together at the Coggan Family Aquatic Complex on the La Jolla High School campus, the community pool closest to their home.

Mark owes much of his start in the game eight years ago to following Matt, now a sophomore at USC.

“I saw him in the pool and I said, ‘That looks like fun,’” Mark said. “So I decided to give it a try, and I’ve stuck with it since.”

Matt competed at Cathedral Catholic High since he found the school suited him, and Mark later opted for Bishop’s as a fit for him. As it turned out, they ended up on opposite sides in the Open Division final the two years their prep careers overlapped.

Cathedral Catholic won the championship in Mark’s freshman year, and Bishop’s started its current title reign the next season.

“It’s honestly really crazy,” said Mark, who guarded his older brother on occasion. “We talked smack early on in the season, but coming into [section] finals, we were pretty much quiet, focused on our personal and team goals.

“It’s definitely a really awesome experience that I’ll never forget.”

Justin subsequently joined the Knights’ varsity team as a freshman last season.

“It’s great being able to help Justin, because I know he’ll listen to me and trust me a lot,” Mark said. “We just have that brother connection, too.”

Mark entered the starting lineup regularly last school year as the traditional fall season was postponed to the spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The finals eventually were played June 19.

“Honestly, the wait made the win at the end a lot more special,” Mark said. “We’d been working the whole year toward it, and to finally get it after all that work was just a great feeling.”

Senior Garrett Johnson and junior goalie Oliver Price join Mark as returning starters this season, which concludes with the playoffs in early November.

“Mark [brings] leadership and experience from two championships to help our younger guys,” Knights coach Doug Peabody said. “He’s an intelligent, hard-working kid.”

With the help of weightlifting over his high school years, the former 5-foot-10 freshman has become a 6-1, 170-pound senior with perhaps more growth to come.

“You always keep getting better, and for me, that’s definitely a motivating factor,” Mark said. “There’s always something to get better at, whether it’s physically or mentally.”

La Jolla Athlete of the Week features athletes from all sports in high school (La Jolla High, The Bishop’s School, La Jolla Country Day School) and other local youth sports. We’re looking not only for the stars of competition but also for student-athletes who set an example for teamwork, academic achievement and/or community involvement. Please email your nominations, and a way to reach your nominees, to Editor Rob Vardon at robert.vardon@lajollalight.com.