Sports: Water polo, swimming
Position: Left side attacker
School: West Orange
West Orange High School senior water polo player Daniel Raz has volunteered with Special Olympics as a unified partner. Alongside his special athlete, he won a silver medal at the 2022 Special Olympics. More recently, Raz was named to the 2023 NISCA National School All-American list, the 2023 USAWP Junior Olympics first team All-American and the 2023 USAWP Academic All-American.
What does being named to the NISCA All-American list mean to you?
It was a huge honor. It’s something that I always thought I’d love to (get) when I first started, I didn’t know if I actually could. And to actually get here … feels really great.
How did you get into water polo?
I used to play baseball (and) tennis, but I just never liked them. I needed to play a sport, and my mom saw an ad for water polo at a club (YCF). I tried it out, and it was the first sport I fell in love with from the jump.
What do you love most about water polo as a sport?
I love being able to compete and playing with my team — and just trying to win. It’s something that I’ve been able to have a lot of fun with and be able to do a lot. … I love traveling — that’s something I’ve been able to do a lot — going to different places (such as) California, Texas, North Carolina and South Florida.
What do you believe water polo has taught you in and out the pool?
Working with a team and also being a leader. I was never a leader for people to look toward in other sports, and this is an opportunity for me to learn how to lead and be able to work with people.
What is your favorite thing about your team?
I know it’s a very basic answer, but I’ll definitely say the people.
What are you going to miss most?
Coach (Jennifer) Dailer, of course. That’s a hard question, just because I’m going to miss so much. There’s so much to love about being a water polo payer at West Orange; there’s so many reasons to love it.
What is your favorite hobby?
Music, I love listening to music.
Who is your favorite celebrity? Why?
LeBron James. I was never really a sports guy, but during COVID-19, my brother was (watching) the 2020 (NBA Finals). I saw Lebron James, and I’ve loved basketball since.
What are three things you would take with you to a deserted island?
I’d have to bring a speaker with a bunch of music on it, Asian food — I’d love sushi — or burgers, and a water polo ball to throw it against the rocks.
If you could choose one person you admire to have dinner with, who would it be?
I’d probably pick LeBron James. I would love to ask him a few things from an athlete’s perspective.
Looking back, what would you say to your 10-year-old self?
I would tell him to enjoy it more instead of keep stressing over little things, and I’d also tell him to start water polo sooner. I’d tell him a lot.
If you could write a letter to your future self, what would you say?
I’d ask, “What school did we end up committing to? How was it? What did I end up deciding to study? How was college? Was it something I should look forward to? What did we do after water polo? Which road did we take?”
Who is your favorite childhood character? Why?
Kung Fu Panda. He’s just funny and he can fight, which it’s cool, and he’s definitely got the best movie series. I love his movies.
If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?
Super speed. I could do anything if I had super speed.
If you could go back in time to a specific period of history, which one would it be and why?
Probably the Roman Empire, when they were fighting in the big arenas. I’d like to go see those fights.
What color would you say represents your personality? Why?
I would say probably red; it’s just my favorite color.
If you could be an animal for a day, which one would you be and why?
An eagle; I think the feeling of flying through the air has got to be incredible so I would like to experience what it’s like to fly.