Have you ever heard of a school team that doesn’t play their home games on campus? Look no further than our school’s very own water polo team! Water polo is a sport at MSJ that not many people know about, and only around 20 people are on the team. If you enjoy swimming, play in often challenging but fun games against other teams in the MIAA and make some friends along the way. Once you get the hang of the sport after a while, you’ll quickly get used to it. Don’t worry about being cut; the team does not cut anyone, and all you have to do is sign up.

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The first thing about MSJ Water Polo is that the first week of practice is the last week of summer break, so adjust your summer sleep schedules earlier. The pools we swim in for training include pools at colleges such as UMBC and CCBC due to MSJ not having an on-campus pool. The season ends in early November, so free up your schedules and calendars during the season. Our head coach, Pat Underwood, and assistant coach, Greg McDivitt, are great coaches who care about their players, and it’s great to spend the season with them. MSJ is frequently in tournaments everywhere, ranging from Annapolis to locations in Pennsylvania such as Fillmore and even Philadelphia. Speaking of traveling, our team went to schools all over the Baltimore area last year and swam at schools with great pools, such as McDonough and Loyola Blakefield. Due to our limited number of players, some people have to play on both varsity and JV squads and go to all of the tournaments.

The game appears to be a chaotic mess, and while it may be just that, there are rules and things to do and not do in a match. Regulations such as grabbing the ball with two hands, having your feet on the ground in shallow water, and an offensive foul all result in turnovers. In the pool, you will have one goalie, five people who play on the outside perimeter, and a set, someone who plays in the middle and is usually the one to score the goals. The set is easily the most physical position in water polo as they have to keep their defender behind them to get the ball. A defensive foul will result in the offensive player being fouled to be able to throw a pass without any pressure.

Some defensive penalties will result in a defender being kicked out for a play, and the defensive game plan changes completely. One defensive foul may result in the offensive player getting a foul shot from the 5-meter point, similar to a free throw in basketball. Often, there will be points in the game (especially in JV games) where no fouls are committed with frequent turnovers, and for a solid minute or two, you’ll just be swimming back and forth for a while. The games are broken up into quarters with the number of minutes depending on whether you’re on varsity or JV, and a start-to-finish game will typically take up to one actual hour of time. It’s a lot of swimming so if you are going to join next year, start working in a pool to get ready for the season.

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To summarize the information, water polo, while being a complicated game on the surface, is fun and can get very interesting when it’s a close game. During the season, our team bonds very well, and it is easy to make some friends. You also get to travel to some of the best campuses and schools in the Baltimore area. With enough practice, you can easily adjust to what appears to be a demanding sport. Our all-MIAA goalie and senior team captain, Asher Vance, is leaving after this year, so will you be the one to step up and take a significant role on the team?

Graham Gardiner is a Sophomore member of the Multimedia Journalism class.