by Billiann Robertson
It may not be as popular as softball, basketball, or soccer; but Girls’ Water Polo deserves just as much recognition. I may be biased being a water polo player myself but I assure you it takes just as much training, energy, and talent as any other sport does.
When faced with the request to write about what being a water polo player is like, it took me awhile to decide what exactly to write about. We weren’t the best team in the league, most of us were first-year players and, frankly, it’s difficult to write about a sport that isn’t very popular. It’s simple; water polo is a challenge, it’s fun, and it’s a completely new experience.
I’ve found myself arguing with other students about the sport being a challenge. Since most of our school doesn’t even know we have a water polo team, it’s hard to convince fellow students that it is as hard as any other sport. What they don’t understand is the biggest part of the sport: It’s in water! Not only are you trying to successfully shoot the ball into the net, but you are treading water while doing it. Water polo takes just as much mentally as basketball or soccer do, but twice as much physically. Even during a time out, or just simple down time in the game, you are treading.
Each team has six players in the “field,” or water, and one goalie. While playing, you are trying to maneuver yourself away from your defender to get open for a pass or shot. There are above-water fouls called against players but there is hardly any way to call a foul on something happening underwater. This is why the sport is infamous for underwater brutalities. In my own personal experience, I have actually been bit by a girl. Yes, bit. The player couldn’t get away from me and decided it would be appropriate to put her head underwater and bite me. She got away for a few seconds, and I had a huge bruise on my arm for a few weeks, along with a story to tell forever.
To train for water polo, we start land workouts about a month before the season begins. Once we are good and sore, we start two-a-days, meaning land practice in the morning, and our pool workout in the evening. This experience makes up what we call “polo hell week.” You are probably wondering where the fun is. Well, water polo has provided me with some of my closest friends. By the end of the season, we had all formed bonds unlike what I’ve experienced in other sports. The sport may be tough, but we all had each other for support.
Our coaches often had just as much fun as we did. Being college water polo players themselves, they knew exactly what it was like to have the sport consume your life. Water polo isn’t just a sport we played, it became a lifestyle. That is what, in my opinion, makes it stand out from other sports. During polo season, I eat like a water polo player (a ton!), hang out with water polo players, sleep more because I’m tired from water polo, my bedroom smells like chlorine from being in the pool so much, and all I can think about is our next game. I hope you get the point. Water polo consumes my time and energy, and I absolutely love it. Just writing this gets me so excited for next season. If you have a daughter or a friend who is looking for a fun, challenging, new sport to play… tell her to go out for Girls’ Water Polo.