Danielle grew up in El Cajon California with her mother Janet, her father Yeghish, her younger brother Brian, and later her step-dad, John Yeats. She attended El Cajon Valley High School and was a member of the Brave’s swim team all four years earning All-League honors after becoming the League Champion in the breaststroke her junior and senior years.
While attending Heartland swim practice following her freshman year, her brother Brian got recruited to join the boy’s high school water polo team practice as they were short a player. Following Brian’s report to Danielle about how much fun he had, the coach began to recruit Danielle for the team…the boy’s team! At that time there was no girl’s water polo offered in high school sports. Danielle went on to not only compete with the boys for three years, she was named team captain and MVP her senior year. Danielle has since been inducted into the El Cajon Valley High School Hall of Fame.
It was also during her senior year in 1994 that she was recruited to become a water polo official and joined the San Diego Water Polo Officials Association. Danielle was selected to play on the first USA Woman’s Junior World Championship Team but needed to earn money for expenses, so her career as a water polo official was launched. The recruiter also knew that women’s water polo was scheduled to begin at the high school level and there were no women available to work as an official.
Following the World Junior Championships, Danielle attended Grossmont College and was back on the men’s team (red shirting) but also tried out and made the 1995 USA Junior Team plus the 1995 USA Senior Team. In 1996, Grossmont College fielded its first women’s team which placed 2nd in the state her first year and 3rd in state here second year. Danielle was the conference’s two-time Player of the Year and a Junior College All-American.
Danielle continued her collegiate playing career at San Diego State University where she was the leading scorer and an NCAA All-American. But it was her officiating career that was now rapidly taking over her list of accomplishments. Through talent and hard work, she was selected to officiate multiple USA Water Polo Junior Olympics and National Championship events. In 2013, she became certified as a FINA referee for international competitions and has since officiated around the globe. She was the first woman to play in a World Junior Championship (1995) and officiate in a World Junior Championship (2013).
Danielle is annually identified as one of the top water polo officials in the United States. She has officiated in eight NCAA Women’s Championships including three woman’s finals, and two men’s NCAA semifinals. In 2015, she and Amber Drury, became the first female duo ever to referee an NCAA championship contest. In 2017, Danielle was the first female to whistle the Men’s NCAA Championship Game.
In 2017, she officiated the FINA Women’s Junior World Championship tournament in Greece followed by Men’s and Women’s Intercontinental Cup Qualifiers in 2018 in New Zealand. She also refereed the 2019 World League Super Final in Budapest, Hungary where team USA qualified for the 2021 Olympics. In 2017, Danielle received the Bret Bernard Distinguished Referee Award at the 2017 USA Water Polo Gala honoring her achievements in the sport. In 2017, she officiated the FINA Women’s Junior World Championship tournament in Greece followed by Men’s and Women’s Intercontinental Cup Qualifiers in 2018 in New Zealand.
She continues to give back to the San Diego water polo community as she is the current Vice President of the SDWPOA, a position she has held for five years. She has officiated over twenty Boys and Girls CIF Championships and for 10 years has served as the Head Referee for USA Water Polo Pacific Southwest Zone. It also must be noted that Danielle also gave birth and raised her two children, Jacob and Jenna, all while officiating at the highest levels of her sport.