Splashes and Scratches: Time For Women’s Water Polo
By Melanie Juarez
The water polo team is easy to recognize at pep rallies; typically, the players will be seen wearing their caps and throwing around a ball. Now, just like other spring sports, women’s water polo is gearing up for the beginning of its season.
Water polo is not a common sport, but players would say it has its own unique charm. Reese Klemm, Adv. 907, said “It’s a bit like soccer...but with a lot more ‘unintentional’ drowning. It’s the most aggressive sport I’ve ever played.” Watch an underwater clip of a game and you will understand what Klemm means; though hitting, kicking and pulling are illegal, almost all of a player’s body is underwater during the game and there is lots of movement and splashing which makes it difficult for a referee to catch everything. “Whatever the referee doesn’t see pretty much goes” said Greta Keilman, Adv. 005. One of the most physically demanding sports, water polo is played in four seven-minute quarters and players cannot touch the bottom of the pool -- they are treading water the entire time.
All that treading and constant swimming around requires a lot of leg power, which the team builds up during practices. The team will hold some conditioning days but will begin official practices in the pool once the men’s swimming season is over. These practices will take place everyday after school, usually from 3:30pm to 5:30pm, in addition to some morning practices. During practices the team members practice drills, run plays, and work on their strength. “[We do] lots of egg beaters,” said Liv Karle, Adv. 100, referring to a common water polo exercise. “But your legs get super strong and you get used to it.”
With every new year, teams have to say goodbye to their seniors. Several talented seniors graduated from the team last spring, and this year there are many first time players. Klemm said “This year we will need to focus on training all of the new first-years and create our new starting team.” That training will be, alongside Coach Carlos Ceja, headed by Nina Robinson, Adv. 911, Stefania Betti, Adv. 902, Kimberly Acosta, Adv. 007, and Emily Karnuth, from Von Steuben. “They are all great water polo players and work together to keep the team in check,” said Keilman. “They are the heart of the team.”
Friendship is an important part of playing on the team. Carle said “My favorite part [of playing water polo] is bonding with the team.” Because water polo is a contact sport, the team spends lots of time close together during practices and games. Northside has a joint team with Von Steuben, so players have the opportunity to form close bonds with other students in the area.
Last year, the women’s water polo team reached sectional quarterfinals before being defeated by Whitney Young. Hopefully this year the team can come together and go even further.