Ashland High junior Troy Robinson will get a crash course in what it means to be an elite level water polo player this week when he travels to Annapolis, Md., to play in the men's junior ODP Zone Championships.

The 12-team, two-day Olympic Development Program tournament begins Saturday and wraps up with trophy presentations on Monday. The competition is used to train the nation's top young talent as well as determine which players will represent the United States on the junior national team.

Robinson, 16, who played for Ashland's water polo club team in the fall, is one of 10 players on the Pacific Northwest Hawaii team.

Ashland High's single-season record-holder in steals was picked for the team during a tryout session April 27 in Portland.

"I was quite surprised because I was kind of going up just for the experience of tryout out with players at that level," said Robinson, whose been swimming competitively since fifth grade.

Robinson is preparing for the tournament by practicing with his Ashland teammates at the Southern Oregon University pool. The Grizzlies are preparing for a tournament later this month in Eugene.

"Considering my size and experience compared to other players, I'm hoping to go up there and learn some things to bring back to our team," Robinson said. "I'm hoping to bring some drills back and some new plays to practice with (the Grizzlies)."

Robinson added that his ultimate dream would be to make the junior national team. Many of those players go on to compete in the Olympics.

The AHS water polo team is coached by Christi Gilmore, a former U.S. national team player whom Robinson calls his "mentor."

Sports editor can be reached at 482-3456 x 224 or joe.