While most students at Berkeley High School (BHS) were grasping on to their last couple weeks of summer, the boys’ and girls’ water polo teams were preparing for their upcoming season. Last year, despite difficulties with the chlorine level in the pool, both teams finished the season strong. The girls had a record of 11-10, while the boys’ had a record of 15-9. Both teams strive to do even better this season.
The captains of the girls’ team, Georgia Tomasik and Matilda Hallowell, are both excited about the many new people who have decided to join water polo. “This year at tryouts we have had nearly 70 people registered, which is insane compared to the 20 people that played my freshman year. The sport has really blown up throughout the years I have played, and it’s really fun to get to see new people love the sport as much as I do,” said Tomasik. Hallowell also mentioned that to succeed this season, the team will have to utilize each player’s individual strengths. This includes the speed that many new players from swim teams will bring to the team, which helps with fast breakaways.
To create a tight-knit team, Tomasik and Hallowell plan to have many team bonding events, including beach days, breakfast after morning practices, and sleepovers. They hope that by the end of the season all of the players on both Junior Varsity (JV) and Varsity will feel connected to their fellow teammates. “We are also going to continue to talk with the team as a whole about our priorities and our goals so that as a team we have something to all strive for together,” said Hallowell. The captains want to make the girl’s water polo team a place where all members of the team feel supported and comfortable. “I think that simply cheering your teammates on during a hard leg set or sprints is really useful in showing people that pushing yourself and working hard is something rewarding,” said Tomasik.
Hallowell also stressed the importance of finding a balance between having fun and working hard. This encourages all players to stay motivated throughout the season. “Reminding the girls that the work we put in at practice directly correlates to how well we play in games helps maintain the team’s hard working mindset,” explains Hallowell.
The BHS boys’ water polo team hopes to succeed in the West Alameda County Conference Championships and in the North Coast Section (NCS) Championships. “We’ve put in a lot of work this preseason and past 3 years,” said one of the team’s captains, Matthew Shen, “because the majority of the team knows how bad the team wants a successful NCS run.” Another one of the boys’ captains, Aidan Weinstein, explained that the team placed second in the league last year and will use this as motivation to not only win league, but also to make it far into NCS.
“No one has really complained about the hard work that we’re putting because we all have the same goals for the team in mind.”
Matthew Shen, Boys’ Water Polo Co-Captain
To prepare for these competitive tournaments, the team has been doing lots of conditioning, including leg workouts and swimming more than four miles on the first day of tryouts. “But what I’ve noticed is that no one has really complained about the hard work that we’re putting because we all have the same goals for the team in mind,” said Shen. Jameson Wang, the boys’ team’s third captain, also said that the whole team worked hard during their long hours of preseason training, which included leg workouts and lifting weights.
The captains plan to create a cohesive, bonded team by encouraging all team members to try their best. “When people see that everyone is pushing themselves just as hard as you, it makes it feel like you are in it together,” said Wang. Additionally, Weinstein said that the team spends time together after practice, bringing them closer together. Having a team that can work well together means the team will be able to improve quickly. However, the team already is solid. “One of the strengths that this team has is defense. Last year, our fantastic defense stole us a couple of games, and it has only improved,” said Weinstein. He also said that last year the ball was played mostly on one side of the pool, which gave the opposing team an advantage because they could easily defend BHS. Overall, this season the girls’ water polo team aims to focus on improving their technique, while the boys will work on enhancing their communication skills while swimming. Nevertheless, each of the captains expressed their love for water polo and the friendships they have created. The BHS water polo teams will have to work hard to keep up with this sport that is demanding and physical, yet very exciting.