The Wellesley College club water polo team is back in action for their spring season, recruiting new members and initiating competition with a home victory this past Saturday at the Keohane Sports Center (KSC) pool against Bates College. Wellesley bested the Bobcats 10-9 with a strong and balanced offense, pulling four goals from Cassandra Flores-Montano ’16, two from Catherine Johnson ’16, one from Nadine Franklin ’18 and a hat trick from Kelsey Moran ’17. As part of their spring campaign, the team has held open practices to encourage new players of all levels of experience to join and prepare for this semester’s challenging schedule.
“We have a wide range of athleticism and experience on the team this year. We have some players who played in high school or even earlier, some who started playing when they first came to Wellesley, and some who had never played any sports before joining,” Co-captain Moran said. Moran has played water polo for six years, beginning her first year of high school in Michigan. “As a team, we work surprisingly well with this range, partly due to our efforts in the fall and partly, probably mostly, due our coach’s efforts.”
Under Coach Cory Olcott, the water polo team began practicing three days per week in September, using the fall semester to learn the game, focus on skill-building and establish a baseline level of swimming conditioning to set a foundation for the spring semester’s heavier tournament schedule. Despite this shifting focus, beginners have been encouraged to join in either segment of the season and time is spent throughout the year reviewing and developing water polo techniques and an understanding of the game.
Now in the midst of their competition season, which includes at least three weekend-long tournaments, the team is practicing four days per week from 4 to 6 p.m. in the diving well at the KSC. Water polo’s ambitious practice schedule matches the overall nature of the sport.
“Water polo is probably one of the toughest, most demanding sports around. It involves constantly treading water and sprinting back and forth across the pool, and sometimes the games do tend to get a little rough. But these challenging aspects also make the game that much more fun!” Co-captain Johnson said.
Water polo’s hard work pays off in what players are able to take away from their experience. Apart from providing a consistent and effective workout routine, the club sport encourages students to take a break from Wellesley’s often taxing academic environment and challenge themselves in a new physical, fun and team-oriented way.
“Playing water polo has been a great stress reliever! Being part of the team has boosted my confidence and sharpened my competitive edge,” Flores-Montano said. After playing for three years in high school, Flores- Montano recently joined the Wellesley team this semester.
The amount of time spent together in practice translates to the team’s chemistry outside of the pool. This semester, with fewer numbers due to study-abroad and graduation, the water polo team has become an even smaller, more close-knit community than ever.
“Water polo has introduced me to many people that I probably wouldn’t have gotten the chance to meet on my own and that I’m incredibly glad that I met. The team has given me a place to belong on campus, and I definitely identify with the sport and the team,” Moran said.
The Wellesley club water polo team is a member of the Women’s North Atlantic Division of the Collegiate Water Polo Association, which includes teams from Bowdoin, Bates, MIT, BU and Yale. The team will next travel to Brunswick, Maine for the North Atlantic Division Championship on April 11 and 12 held at Bowdoin College.
Anna Cahill ’18 is the Sports & Wellness Editor who is pursuing a major in Physics. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, watching Seinfeld and playing basketball. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos Courtesy of Bianca Pichamuthu ’16, Photography Editor