The student news site of Smithson Valley High School in Spring Branch, Texas

Valley Ventana

The student news site of Smithson Valley High School in Spring Branch, Texas

Valley Ventana

The student news site of Smithson Valley High School in Spring Branch, Texas

Valley Ventana

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Graphic by Alex Whelchel via Canva
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Keeping its head above water

New team struggles to fill rosters in second official season
Alissa Kastle
During action against Pieper on Aug. 29, junior Caroline Peter makes her move on the ball. The girls lost 3-17.

At the onset of the season, the water polo teams grappled with low player numbers and engagement levels. Teams were forced to forfeit matches and players grew frustrated because of the inability to field complete squads. Just when the waters appeared darkest, a sudden wave of interest and new players began to flood the sport.

The boys’ team, which competed this past year, had not played in two scheduled games. However, tryouts are taking place to build that team back up. 

After the resignation of coach Katherine Hilliard, previous assistant coach Heidi Duckworth became head coach. 

“The season’s going good, and we’re getting started,” Duckworth said. “We are getting more and more people interested as it’s been going on, just a testament to all the hard work that our kids have put into this. So I’m excited to see with the newcomers how we end up this year.”

Alanna Carmichael
Bella Edwards gets ready to pass the ball to a teammate in their game against Pieper on Aug. 29.

Athletes, some of whom had never considered water polo, threw themselves into the pool with passion.

Going into the sport I was kind of nervous until I met my teammates,” sophomore Aubrey Martinez said. “But they made the experience way better for me and taught me techniques I never knew before. I never considered this sport in the beginning, but as I started playing it more, I realized just how much fun it is and hope to keep playing in the future.”

Water polo is a dynamic aquatic sport that combines elements of soccer, basketball and swimming. Played in a swimming pool, two teams of seven players each aim to score goals by throwing a ball to the opposing team’s net, all while treading water. 

“I was kind of overwhelmed,” assistant coach Shanika Randle said. “It’s hard to watch – how hard you have to compete on defense and offense plus swim at the same time and not touch the bottom and throw the ball and defend the ball – all at the same time.” 

The sport’s difficulty, popularity, tryouts and schedule conflicts proved to be major factors in such small teams, causing some ripples in the water. With few players, both teams struggled to compete.

Courtesy of Elizabeth Lamb
The original eight players for the girls team include Marisa Bowers, Bella Edwards, Haylee Kaeding, Elizabeth Lamb, Eva Arriola, Natalie Salgado, Caroline Peter and Aubrey Martinez.

The tides turned and more athletes and students are beginning to open up and try out the sport.

“Last year during Fish Camp, I was walking around the tables and I saw it and my parents said ‘Why not try it?’” team player Bella Edwards said. “So I did and it’s been really fun and I really like it and it’s a great sport.”

As the season unfolds, the future of water polo looks promising. Teams that once struggled to fill their rosters now have new talent and a revived spirit. 

“We’re trying to make the most out of it,” junior Elizabeth Lamb said. “People think it’s way too hard but it’s a really fun sport regardless. The set used to be really hard, but they reduced it and multiple factors have changed in the past few weeks so more people are interested and the words’ getting out a lot more.”





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