Water polo seniors splash out of season

As the season comes to an end and swimmers start to dry, many water polo players wrap up their final practices as they complete their last few weeks of practice. With high school athletics regulations changing constantly these past few days and an unknown schedule ahead of them, many players have mixed emotions about the practices coming to an end so quickly. 

In early fall, players started making their way back to the pool after a hectic recovery from the quarantine notice in early 2020, and members wasted no time before getting back into conditioning and practicing. Emily Flores, senior, was lucky to be one of the players to go back to in-person practices. “We’re not allowed to have any games, or do any close contact drills and practice,” Flores said. “Now, we practice usually twice a week in pods of 10 to 15. We mostly do swimming and we’re allowed to do ball handling, but we can’t really share the balls or get within six feet of each other.”

Lauren MacLean, senior, has dealt with some similar struggles as their teammates as they adapted to the adjustments over the past few months. “It’s really hard to kind of adjust with a contact sport, because so many of our plays require being up on your defender or being up on your offense or getting close enough to steal the ball shot block or whatever it may be. We’ve kind of had to adjust our practices to more of just a strength and endurance kind of focus,” MacLean said. 

The interactions athletes have with their team members are typically some of their most important memories. Wonjin Ko, senior, has played all of his four years on the school team and has made some of his closest friends while being on the team.“The team bonding you would have in a normal season where you would get ready for games and would bond over is all different this year,” Ko said. “There is no music, no bus rides and all that stuff because it was all cancelled, so I kind of missed that.” 

Many seniors have dealt with the hardships of declined opportunities due to the current situations. “It’s been hard because I wasn’t able to go to the Junior Olympics over the summer…the experience of having your last water polo game after playing for six years, that you don’t really get to have is kind of crazy; it all happened in a flash,” MacLean said. 

Although this unusual season is coming to an end, players have enjoyed their moments being on the team despite the challenges. “I wish things could have ended a little bit differently, wish we could have had more games and ended, possibly with getting into CIF, but at least we have a season,” Ko said. “On the bright side, we might be able to see some of the freshmen that are coming in and we’ll work with them before we end.”