DANVILLE -- Water polo gold medalist Maggie Steffens looked every bit the superstar during an appearance Friday at a fitness studio in her hometown.
Steffens, 19, was surrounded by cameras in the packed studio as excited children, and their moms and dads, lined up for autographs and photos. It was one of her first public appearances since returning home from London last week.
"I'm still on cloud nine," she told the crowd. "I want to ride this as long as I can."
Steffens let Ella Warburg, 12, of Diablo, try on her gold medal.
"It feels good, huh?" Steffens said to the grinning girl.
Ella said afterward that she was at a hotel with her family when she watched Steffens score five goals in Team USA's 8-5 victory over Spain in the gold medal match. She said she and her family cheered and screamed through the whole match.
"It was really special," Ella said. "I think we woke up everyone in the hotel."
Steffens was the youngest player on the U.S. team in London, and its leading scorer. She and her older sister, Jessica, 25, both played for the Monte Vista High School girls' water polo team.
Maggie watched Jessica play for Team USA at the Beijing games in 2008 before joining her on the team for this year's Summer Games. Next month, Maggie will again follow in her sister's footsteps and play for Stanford.
Steffens was invited to the Striive fitness studio on Friday by owner Troy Chamberlin, who trains local
"She is the nicest kid in the world -- hard working, understated," Chamberlin said.
UCLA sophomore Danielle Ferraro, 19, of Alamo, gave Steffens a big hug when she arrived at the studio. Ferraro played with Steffens on the Diablo Water Polo Club girl's team. They then played against each other when Ferraro played for San Ramon Valley High School.
"It's really cool to see someone you grew up with do all these things," Ferraro said. "It inspires me seeing how hard she works."
Ferraro plays for the UCLA women's water polo team and will face Steffens in the pool again this season.
Steffens took questions from the crowd and told them about the six-hour training sessions with her sister and what it was like to meet the other athletes in London. Everyone on Team USA shared a spirit of camaraderie, she said, even big-name NBA stars LeBron James and Kobe Bryant.
One person asked Steffens when she would start preparing for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
"I started prepping for Rio when I was 8 years old," she said.
Maggie's mom, Peggy Steffens, said it was nice to be home.
"It was exhausting," she said of the Olympics. "But it was wonderful, too. It's all very surreal. You keep reminding yourself how lucky we are."
Jessica Steffens will return to Danville next week when the two sisters will be given the "Key to the Town" at 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 25, at Oak Hill Park.
"It's so comforting and exciting to know that we had so much support and so many fans behind us," Maggie Steffens said.
Contact Jason Sweeney at 925-847-2123. Follow him at Twitter.com/Jason_Sweeney.
Welcome home bash
What: U.S. women's water polo gold medalists Maggie and Jessica Steffens will be given "Keys to the Town" at a community celebration and welcome-home event.
When: 5-6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 25.
Where: Oak Hill Park, 3005 Stone Valley Road, Danville