Student Journalism at San Rafael High School

Off the Leash

Off the Leash

Off the Leash

SRHS Girls Water Polo Cannot Die

With just ten players this past season, the future of the team is at risk

If you went to the SRHS pool deck at around 4:00 pm in the fall, you’d find the girls water polo team practicing for their next game. Seven players are required to play, but with just ten players this past season, the future of the team is at risk.

Five seniors are graduating in 2024, leaving the fate of the team to just four underclassmen and any possible incoming freshmen recruits. As a member of the team for four years, I’ve noticed that girls water polo has had a notoriously difficult time recruiting players, especially experienced players. The team relies on new and inexperienced players to hold up numbers, which is a factor into the team’s struggle to win games. This trend of losses could be a reason why it’s so hard to recruit players. Who wants to play on a team that always loses?

“It was disappointing [to be on a losing streak], but I felt that winning wasn’t the main goal of the season,” says sophomore player Maya Kux. “Instead, it was building relationships with teammates and creating a safe environment where each person had the opportunity to grow and improve.”

Water polo is so much more than winning and losing. It’s about community, school culture, getting exercise, and having fun. It’s also about trying something new. 

As a freshman, I was unsure of joining the team because I had no idea what water polo was, even though I had been swimming competitively since third grade. The upperclassmen invited me to one practice and from there I was hooked. I would not have thought about joining the team if it was not advertised to me. This is a similar story for many other players.

“I wanted to join water polo because it gave me something to do, and there were a lot of people on the team that I look up to,” says freshman player Ella Clark. “It was just a fun thing all around.”

Girls water polo players need to start promoting the team more heavily to incoming freshmen prior to the start of the season through visits to local middle schools and during touring middle school students. Promotional posters around middle schools should be hung up to get the word out to students. Introduction practices should be held to welcome possible recruits in the spring and summer before the season begins.

The water polo season happens during the fall season, which starts in August. So instead of running on the hot turf in 85 degree heat for practice, you are splashing around in the refreshing pool. Water polo is also an amazing full-body workout. It’s an intense, fast-paced, and competitive game that not only needs strength, but also quick thinking skills. Working out releases endorphins, a feel-good chemical in the brain that decreases stress. What better way to get endorphins than cooling off in the pool and working out after a long day? 

Maybe you’re thinking that the team is insignificant to the school. The team is small, doesn’t win very often, and is not typically something that comes to mind first when thinking of high school sports.

Although this is not a sport widely valued by others, it’s meaningful to those who play. Girls water polo is crucial to SR because it provides a community for those who are passionate about aquatics and who are seeking to make friends. It’s a safe space for new players to make mistakes, learn from them, and improve gameplay. The best way to learn and get better is to be challenged, even if it seems daunting to be thrown onto varsity as a freshman.

“Being a freshman on varsity was hard at first, but then you get used to it,” says Clark. “You get used to the games and to the scheduling. It was a good opportunity because I got to meet and learn from the upperclassmen.”

It’s incredibly important for the girls water polo team to continue despite the small number of players. It’s so hard to revive something that has fizzled out. It takes energy from upperclassmen to keep the team culture alive and exciting. Without upperclassmen to hype up the team, it will be next to impossible to continue the team even just one or two years after the death of the original team.

It’s always easier to give up on something difficult. But the most important thing that current and incoming players can do is to remain optimistic. Being hopeful for the future of the team is what will be the deciding factor of its fate.

“We aren’t going to be MCAL winners, but I feel that our team has one of the best spirits out of all the Marin County water polo teams,” says Kux.

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  • J

    José De La RosaFeb 28, 2024 at 7:58 pm

    Great article Paige! The polodawgz must not die! Recruiting at school starts now. Posters with info, informational tables at lunch, and posting on social media need to happen to get the word out! Get girls from the swim team to come out and try it. Y’all got this.