SARATOGA - Nadja Novakovic's spectacular 2019 season has resulted in her signing a National Letter of Intent with Long Beach State. She is the first player to sign with new Head Coach Shana Welch and will join the Beach for the 2021-2022 season.
The 5'-7" utility player from Belgrade, Serbia was one of the most dynamic and dominant offensive players in California in her lone season as a Viking. Novakovic led the Coast Conference and was third in the California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) with 119 overall goals (a Coast-high 40 in league action) despite missing three games due to injury. Her 47 overall assists were 2nd in the Coast and 10th in the CCCAA and she led the Viking defense with 42 steals.
Novakovic was an integral component in West Valley's third-place state finish, a NorCal title and a third-consecutive unbeaten Coast Conference campaign. She dominated the 2019 NorCal Championship tournament with 19 goals, four assists and 9 steals in three games and was named the tournament MVP. Novakovic was named to the All-America, NorCal and Coast 1st Teams and earned the 2020 West Valley Allman Family Scholarship for her academic success.
"Where do I start with Nadja? I her short time here at WVC, having only played one season, she has transformed our program," West Valley Head Coach Erika Vargas said. "She did more for our program than just lead in goals. She showed everyone that it is possible to be the very best version of oneself in the darkest times. She is hardworking, resilient, inventive and determined to attain any goal she sets her mind to. Nadja will be missed, but is leaving as the first NorCal MVP in WVC women's water polo history. She has set a new standard for us and her legacy will continue!"
Long Beach State plays in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF), the NCAA's premier women's water polo conference. In addition to the Beach, MPSF member schools include Arizona State, Cal, Indiana, San José State, Stanford, UCLA and USC. Welch was named the Head Coach in 2020 after six seasons in multiple coaching roles. She played four years at Michigan University, setting a UM single-season record with 84 goals in 2005.
"We are excited to welcome Nadja to the Long Beach family," Welch said of Novakovic. "Her athleticism and strength along with her wealth of water polo experience will be a great addition to our returning team. She is an all-around good person who will fit in well with our team culture here at Long Beach and we look forward to her joining us next year."
Novakovic is the second 2019 Viking to land an NCAA D1 offer, joining goalkeeper Raquel de Pinho, who recently signed with San Diego St.
(Matt Folsom, West Valley College Athletics)