Salloum’s influence extends beyond water polo

Mariam Salloum prepares to pass the ball in a game against San Diego State on March 3. Salloum, a senior, plans to return home to Germany after this year to attend graduate school and continue playing water polo. (Photo by Sam Rosenbaum)

Mariam Salloum is a key player for the ASU water polo team because of her experience, dedication and tenacity.

The senior attacker is ranked in the top 10 in all four statistical categories including goals, assists, points and steals.

Salloum became a Sun Devil four years ago and is continuing to make a name for herself at ASU.

She rose to become a vital component as the team’s leading goal scorer, gearing up for the MPSF tournament in a few weeks.

But her story didn’t begin in Arizona.

Salloum grew up in Germany, where she began playing water polo and joined a club team. In 2004, she played for the Germany Senior National Team and described her experience as a great one.

“I love playing with the national team,” she said. “It’s so special.”

She explained that it was different playing for the national team than playing for ASU and that she enjoyed the international caliber of competition.

Salloum was recruited for her freshman year and quickly saw differences from playing water polo in Germany to the U.S.

“Over here, everyone’s pulling on the same string and trying to accomplish something together instead of just coming to be social,” Salloum said.

The senior said she planned to try things out at ASU for the first semester to see how she liked it, but wound up staying for all four years because she enjoyed it so much.

“In four years, she’s always had these surprising goals where you think the possession is lost, and all of a sudden an arm pops up out of the water with the ball and scores,” coach Todd Clapper said.

Senior Kelsey White, a four-year teammate and best friend of Salloum, echoed Clapper’s sentiments.

“She’s like an Energizer Bunny,” she said. “She’s nonstop, keeps going and will put away shots that no one can ever expect.”

Salloum said her inspiration for success has always been her older sister, who also played water polo, and her motivation lies within her teammates.

“They believe so much in me and that motivates me a lot, knowing that they have my back,” she said.

Her teammates and coach agree that Salloum is a leader on the team, is always approachable and leads by example in and out of the pool.

“In training, she’s able to kind of walk that line of being really intense and serious, but also enjoying what she’s doing,” Clapper said. “That’s difficult for people to do. She’s always been a big part of what we’re doing.”

The senior never ceases to impress in the pool, but has also showed she has a very vibrant personality out of it, where she can be found dancing to house music, going to the movies or making homemade pizza.

“As a person, she’s just so funky (and) always has a smile on her face, but at the same time, (she’s) really focused on what she’s doing and always gives 100 percent with everything she does,” White said.

She added that Salloum has a softer side than she normally portrays.

White said that Salloum is terrified of bugs and admitted, “I’ve often had to risk my life for saving her from them.”

Even though the senior is enjoying her stay in Arizona, she is excited to go back home to see her 18-year-old cat Maxie.

“Yeah, he’s old,” Salloum said. “I hope he’s still alive when I get back to Germany.”

There is no doubt Salloum has established a name for herself in her time at ASU, but her impact on the program extends beyond her accomplishments.

“She’s my best friend and I’ve enjoyed my four years here with her,” White said. “We’ve grown so much and learned so much together with water polo.”

Clapper said Salloum has grown so much in the program, but doesn’t think she’s peaked just yet.

“She has a lot of great (water) polo left ahead of her,” he said.

After graduation, the Sun Devil has aspirations to attend graduate school in Europe to earn her master’s degree in international relations and hopes to continue to play water polo.

 

Reach the reporter at fawade@asu.edu

 

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