newsMarch 7, 2024
The SEMO water polo team is gearing up for an exciting semester with six new members during recent tryouts.
Mollie Bumpus ~ Arrow Reporter

The SEMO water polo team is gearing up for an exciting semester with six new members during recent tryouts.

Sophomore computer science major Jenna Wolf currently coaches the team by herself while her brother, Scott Wolf, is away in the military. Scott founded the club, and the siblings plan on coaching together when he returns. Wolf spoke enthusiastically about the successful tryouts.

"We had a really good group of people with a lot of different skill levels. A lot of them are friends with people already on the team, so they fit in quickly and felt comfortable," Wolf said.

The team, consisting of 10 to 15 members on average, undergoes fluctuations due to joinings and departures. Wolf emphasized the inclusive nature of the team.

"We're open for anything. We're more of just recreational and having fun. If someone wants to join in the middle of the season, we welcome them," Wolf said.

Tryouts for SEMO's water polo team focus on teaching basic skills such as treading water, passing, and shooting the ball. Water polo has a lot of the same rules as soccer, but you add in a mix of swimming and wrestling. There are six players on a team plus a goalie, and you transition from offense to defense like you would in soccer. Players use a hand to throw the ball to other players.

Wolf described the tryout process as a way to introduce newcomers to the sport, emphasizing that the club is open to anyone who knows how to swim.

Junior social work major Stephon Banks encouraged those considering trying out.

"It's not going to be easy, but with time, practice, and consistency, you can get better. Just imagine being a part of a team, helping your team win, and helping each other achieve the biggest goals as a team," Banks said.

With an emphasis on improvement, Wolf expects the team to progress significantly this semester.

"Most of the people on this team have never played water polo before coming here, so they are learning from step 1. A lot of improvement in passing and shooting. Also, a lot of good communication," Wolf said.

Wolf reiterated that the primary goal is to have fun playing the sport, providing a new and enjoyable experience for members.

Sophomore health science major Raena Lieser, a dedicated member entering her fourth semester on the team, shared her journey into water polo.

"I saw water polo at the involvement fair during my freshman year and thought it looked challenging. I went to the first practice, liked it, and have been coming back ever since," Lieser said.

Lieser, originally a basketball player and track athlete, found the adjustment to water polo challenging but rewarding.

"Hard work pays off. This is my fourth semester on the team. I was actually one of the slowest on the team when I started, and I just kept coming to the practices and doing some stuff outside, now I am one of the fastest," Lieser said.

As Lieser takes on the role of a full-time goalie this semester, she expressed excitement about the challenges that come with the position and the anticipation of new team members.

Junior computer science major Natalie Clark, who played track and wrestling in high school, spoke highly of water polo as her favorite sport and encourages people to try out.

"It is one of the best sports I have been a part of, and the team is really cool. It is one of the best workouts you can do. We need more people because the more people we get, the more games we can do. We are a club team but the more people we get we could make it an official team," Clark said.

Being a part of the team is also a good way to make new connections with peers while having fun playing a sport. Clark explains how she made some of the best connections on the team.

"I actually met my boyfriend on the team, and I have some of the best friendships on this team. At the end of the semester, we have a party we'll throw and just hang out, play games, and make food. It's a good time," Clark said.

As the team's membership grows, the potential to transition from a club to an official team looks promising.