Student Journalism at San Rafael High School

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Off the Leash

Water Polo Dives Into a New Season


The much anticipated water polo season is in full swing, and both the boys’ and girls’ teams have plunged into the Marin County League for the 2023-2024 season. However, this season didn’t start on the strongest footing as the water polo teams have found themselves in a phase of rebuilding due to the departure of graduating seniors and some team members opting to move on to other endeavors.

It’s a common occurrence in the world of high school sports for teams to undergo changes from year to year. This could lead to early-season games producing results that seem unbalanced, owing to the evolving team compositions, the integration of inexperienced players, and various other factors. This seems to be the case for the San Rafael High School water polo teams this season.

“We have a smaller team this year and lost our top talent players, so we are met with the challenge of improving the competitive level of each of the players on the team, as all the players on the girls varsity this year were substitutes from last year,” said Coach Fernandez, also known as Coach Phil.

The San Rafael water polo girls’ team, in particular, faced a significant challenge, losing a whopping 11 players from their roster. This left them in a rather vulnerable position. Last season, the girls’ team had a record of 12 wins and 7 losses overall, with a league score of 3-5. In stark contrast, this year has seen the team struggle with an overall record of 2-13 and a league score of 0-6. While the odds may seem stacked against them, it’s essential to remember that the season is far from over, and there’s still time for the team to regroup and rediscover their winning spirit.

Throughout the games that have already happened, we can observe that the opposing teams have a vast number of players, which we lack due to students not participating in this sport and also due to the rebuilding process. “Since we only have 10 players on our roster, it’s difficult to manage the team to achieve good performance, as opposing teams usually have double the number of players that we do and can substitute them to leverage and balance the stamina output of their players,” said Coach Phil Fernandez.

The boys’ varsity team is showing remarkable improvement compared to the previous season, as evident in their recent scores. Last year, their overall record was 3-16, with a league score of 0-8. This season, they’ve already demonstrated a positive shift with scores of 5-13 overall and 1-7 in the league. The term “overall scores” encompasses every game throughout the year, including those outside of the Marin County League.

For those unacquainted with the sport, it’s essential to recognize that water polo is often considered one of the most demanding and physically aggressive sports. The game’s intensity is characterized by players engaging in robust physical contact, involving shoving, pulling, and strategic hits on opposing players. “The fundamentals of water polo are based on the similarities it shares with swimming, soccer, and basketball,” said Coach Alex.

The level of commitment required for water polo is substantial, with most players dedicating approximately 15-20 hours a week to stay competitive. Each game consists of four quarters lasting 8 minutes each (the clock stops when the ball is not in play), resulting in a game duration of about 50 minutes to an hour.

What are the most important qualities a water polo player needs to have? Coach Alex mentions that “Good swimming skills and on-point reaction time are key traits. Also, being aware of your surroundings and of the time remaining in the game is crucial.”

What are the most important qualities a water polo player needs to have? Coach Alex mentions that “it’s important for a player to know five things: where the ball is, how much time remains, where the goalie is, where their teammates are, and where the person they’re guarding or who is guarding them is. Also, an on-point reaction time and good swimming skills are key traits.”

Players in water polo exhibit a wide range of qualities, but strong swimming skills, speed, and endurance are paramount. Stamina is critical to thriving in this sport, and while taller players may have certain advantages, shorter athletes can excel with the right skill set and determination.

The water polo team’s players have various reasons to join the roster, either because of personal or academic goals. 

When interviewed, Charlie Bussi mentioned, “I aspire to become a D1 water polo player.” 

Jack McCall said, “I wanted to get fit and hang out with my friends.”

 “My goals are to play at the best of my ability for the remaining games I have and set up the next generation of this team to be better,” said Drew Phizackerly.

As water polo continues to capture the public’s interest, it’s essential to recognize the dedication and perseverance required from these young athletes. So, make sure to support the San Rafael High School water polo teams by attending their games, showing your school spirit, and witnessing the intensity and skill that make this sport truly remarkable.

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    Niko DumitrescuOct 19, 2023 at 1:12 pm


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      NikoOct 20, 2023 at 9:55 am

      tell em niko!