By Maximillian Barron
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For those of you who don’t know, Waterpolo is a sport played worldwide, and especially popular in European countries. Created in 1888, Waterpolo is an intense water sport using only a ball and goals. It requires 7 players on each team in the pool, 6 field players and one goalie. I myself was a goalie. I have played water polo throughout all of high school, and hope to continue playing one day. I was a one year junior varsity player and a 3 year varsity player. This sport is known to need great length strength. The particular reason for this circumstance is that you have to be treading water the entire time you are in the pool, except when you are swimming, which just requires more effort and energy. You also need to be able to lunge yourself out of the water to shoot over someone or block a shot.
Waterpolo is also a lot more physical than people realize. Being able to overpower someone with strength and maneuver while in a pool is not an easy task. Although I may be a goalie, and I don’t experience that as much, my fellow teammates must train very hard to be able to handle themselves and stay above water if a few opposing players swim over to drown him/her. One thing that is known about waterpolo is that if you are doing something you don’t want seen by the refs, you do it under water, as it is hidden. Illegal moves, violent hits, and even scratching, all happens in the water, but it can’t be seen.
I hope to use this blog to explain to you all why it confuses why this sport isn’t well known, as I think it is both enjoyable to watch and play.
Water sports has always been a part of my family’s history. My mom was a junior olympic swimmer, and my uncle was a varsity goalie, just like me. So I was strongly encouraged to at least give waterpolo a chance. Summer after 8th grade, I participated in skills clinics run by the coach of my highschool. To be honest, I hated it. I absolutely despised the sport at first. It was cold, exhausting, boring, and just plain annoying. I know this blog is to convince people why this sport is interesting, but I can fully admit there are ups and downs. After that summer, I was sure that I would never play again. In my mind, it wasn’t my sport. But in late september, my friend Bailey, who was on the JV team, and did the clinics with me, asked me to come to practice with him because the coach wanted to talk to me. I knew what it was for but I still went.
I got to the practice, and it turns out I knew the JV coach from my childhood, as he was my friend’s brother. He pulled me to the side and asked me if i would come play, as one of the JV goalie’s were quitting. In my mind it was a forsure no. No, no way. I’m not doing this. But for some reason I kept trying to say no, but all that came out was yes. So I started playing halfway through my freshman season. This was one of the best decisions I have ever made. People always say trust your gut, but that’s not always the case. My Freshman season ended up going very well, as I got used to my position very quickly. And That’s when the varsity coached called me in.
The next level:
After my Freshman season, the varsity coach at my highschool asked me to be the starting varsity goalie my sophomore year. I was a little timid, because it was a big responsibility that I didn’t know if I was ready for, and it was gonna require a lot of work to prepare. But out of anxiety I said yes. I started my training a month later. My coach set me up with an olympic goalie, and that was the most difficult part of the journey. He put me through the most hardcore regiments I ever done for a sport. His name was Jake Bowen and was an absolute hard ass, but he was close to my coach, so I trusted him. Everyday after training, my legs were so sore that it was hard to walk. But by the time of my sophomore season, I was ready. My first year on varsity I set a record at my high school. And although I did well, my team did not and we had a losing season. We only won a few games and placed second to the last in our league.
After the season ended, my coach told me that he was leaving for a new job. He was someone I really looked up to, and I was scared that I couldn’t continue the journey without him. But he encouraged me to stick with it, so I did. Later that year, a new coach was hired. His name was Thomas, a young 25 year old who had a ton of experience. He was the heart of the team, and was a huge boost of encouragement. My junior year season I did terrible, my worst season of all high school. I felt that I let down both him and my team.
My Final season:
After such a disappointing junior season, I was determined to work harder than ever and make my last season my best. I started weight training shortly after, and I put on 35 pounds. It completely changed my game, as well as my confidence. I stopped getting down on myself, and used mistakes as motivation to improve. It wasn’t easy, as our new coach quit just one year after. Losing our coach made me realize that I need to be a leader to my team, especially since I was a senior. All of my returning teammates also improved a ton. Our summer training was a train wreck, as our newest coach was very inexperienced. But she was very passionate about it, which was a huge team boost. I was determined to make the most out of this season, as it was my last.
As a team, we did terrible. We placed last in the league and couldn’t make the playoffs. On the other hand, I did amazing. I set another school record, recorded multiple career highs, and was contacted by multiple D1 schools. I was even offered a full ride to a private school. But unfortunately, I was not very enthusiastic about playing in college. Basketball was my passion, and I felt it was too big of a commitment to put the work in. After my last game, I was sad but also relieved. I was upset that my journey was over, but at the same time happy that I got the chance to experience it. I made tons of great friends and role models through this sport.
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