The Student News Site of Carl Sandburg High School



Girls Water Polo Season Kicks Off with Promise

The girl’s water polo team ended their season last year with a tremendous victory. Going to state for the first time in 22 years leaves them feeling pumped up and ready for another great fight to get there. Now that the team has done what may have seemed impossible, their lane is open for many other victories. 

Allison Rocha came to coach the girl’s water polo team last year, and was named coach of the year. She is now the head coach for girls water polo, meaning she works with both Varsity and Junior Varsity. However, she is really focused on Junior Varsity and bringing them to state again this year.

Anna McBride has been coaching the girls water polo team since 2015, and is coaching the Junior Varsity team this year. Coach McBride states, “I participated in club water polo in the 90s and coached swimming for a long time. I worked the scoring table for games for about ten years, so when the school needed someone, I was happy to become an assistant to learn more about the game and continue working with many of the swimmers in a new way.”

Coaching is not always easy going, and when there is a lot of commotion going on in the water, it can be difficult for coaches to clearly communicate with players. Either because the players’ ears are covered by their swim caps and numbers, or because they are shouting in the water, sometimes the players don’t hear the coaches’ instructions. Coach McBride states, “The most challenging part for me is communicating with the players effectively and efficiently during the game. The easiest part is working with passionate athletes and coaches.”

The girls Junior Varsity water polo team has a great start to their season, going 5-3 so far. The team consists of 14 players, 9 of which are new to playing at the high school level. Sarah Sfirnaciuc, who is a freshman and the Junior Varsity goalie this season, states, “ I think [being goalie] is a different experience, but also a lot of pressure. It’s hard when the whole team is riding on your back basically, but I think our Junior Varsity team has done some really great defense, and I haven’t really put us in danger yet!” Sfirnaciuc was played goalie the whole game on March 14 when the team defeated Homewood- Flossmoor 10-2. 

Their teamwork throughout the beginning of the season has truly grown in numerous ways. From them learning to communicate more in the water, to becoming more open to change and growth, to setting  key goals, the team has really started to connect and work well together.

Their defense has improved in the short time they have played together, and the connections between the girls show throughout the games. Their skills and teamwork really showed during their tournament at Lincoln Way West, where they won 2 two games and lost 1. Enthusiastic fans and parents alike could see how proud the team was when everything just seemed to click. 

The JV water polo team during a moment of downtime – Courtesy of @cswaterpolo on Instagram

A lightbulb moment happened during the tournament where Sandburg was on offense, and everyone in the water realized what they needed to do. Everyone moved quickly, fighting to get the ball in the goal: players got open, fantastic passes were made, and the teamwork throughout the play ended with another point going up on the board. 

The girl’s Varsity team, on the other hand, has begun their season with a record of 3-3 and one tie.  The players on Varsity have worked together the past couple of years on either Varsity or Junior Varsity and have really become one cohesive group, both in and outside of the water. Their teamwork brought them to state last year, and it is definitely a goal they have for this season as well. Claire Donnell, who is number 3 on the Varsity team states, “My favorite game so far this year was when we beat McAuley, who got second in state last year.” 

The Varsity water polo team after a win against McAuley – Courtesy of @cswaterpolo on Instagram

The girls on Varsity are role models to the players on Junior Varsity. They are there to help each other and support one another. Even though the players on Varsity may have more experience in the water, they don’t let it change the way they feel about players on Junior Varsity. Friendships are still strong, and they find ways to connect with each other in and outside of the water. Donnell states, “I am really excited to see my team continue to grow and show other teams what Sandburg is capable of.”

When you are just starting out playing water polo, there is often a large learning curve, whether that be learning how to tread water, or learning how to toughen up your throwing arm to make goals for the team. During that journey, more and more skills are learned and achieved that make each person individually stronger at their sport, and also give the team more of a connection between each other.

Donnell says, ”I have learned so much playing water polo, but most importantly I’ve learned to not underestimate myself, because even with intimidating teams, I and my teammates are capable of anything we set our mind to.”

Sfirnaciuc adds, “ I think it’s just important to note that it’s a whole team contribution, and if someone messes up we can’t put all the blame on them.”

Even though the team starts as a group of girls sitting on a bench where each person only knows a few players, the season ends with new friendships and connections. Sfirnaciuc states, “My favorite memory was our first tournament, because Varsity also got to come with us, and it was so fun to just bond with them and do a Q&A. My funniest memory was probably stopping a goal with my head in practice.”

Donnell continues “My favorite memory was winning Sectionals last year. It was such a close game and so fun to see us prove ourselves and our hard work. My funniest memory was when we played Metea Valley in a tournament [and] I took a shot block to the face from about 2 feet away.” 

“I believe that the goal for Varsity is to repeat that championship and compete well in the state tournament.  For JV, our goal is to learn as much as possible about the game and play with intensity no matter who is the opponent,” sates Coach McBride.

The teams both have significant goals to uphold; however, with the right amount of teamwork and communication, the team can make it and hopefully bring home a state trophy.

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