What Happens in the Water, Stays in the Water

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In the world of egg-beaters and nail checks the 2007 St. Agnes Academy waterpolo team holds their own. While waterpolo requires both endurance and strategy, the Tigers have an edge that sets them apart from the crowd.
Coach Chapman, a veteran of St. Agnes waterpolo herself, has a special affection for this year’s team. “The girls that are seniors were freshman when I first started coaching,” said Chapman. “It’s been fun to watch them grow.”

Unlike last year, when the team boasted two main players, the St. Agnes Tigers have a whole new set of team dynamics at work this year. “Now were more equal,” said Chapman. “We play more like a team.”
For those who aren’t trained in the ways of waterpolo the basic idea of the game is simple. Waterpolo is played with six players in the water per team, plus two goalies (one for each team). There are four, seven-minute quarters where both teams battle to score in the other’s goal. As junior guard/driver Mina puts it, “After that its basically basketball in the water.” Waterpolo may seem simple enough to the untrained eye, but in the water, behind the back of the ref, is where the heart of the game really lies. “The other team, they’ll pull you under, grab you, just do whatever it takes to stop you from getting control of the ball,” says Mina. Prior to every game, each player must pass a “nail check” to make sure their fingernails aren’t too sharp or long enough to hurt anyone they may come in contact with during the game. When a player gets too physical fouls are called- but according the Tigers, most referees miss about half the fouls that actually happen.

Even with an optimistic attitude there’s no denying that the Tigers constantly deal with obstacles in and out of the water. The Tigers speculate the root adversity is their unique circumstance in the league. “We’re the only private school in the league, we get the worst game times, and the [other teams] are more physical,” says Coach Chapman. “We play good, clean games compared to the other teams,” said senior set/guard Mary. “The other teams always push, shove, pull and kick us when the ref isn’t looking.” In the face of adversity the Tigers still have one thing that makes them the envy of the waterpolo world. “Our facilities [at Strake Jesuit College Preparatory] are great and convenient,” says Chapman. Because Strake Jesuit opened their new pool last year, the Waterpolo Tigers have access to the newest, state-of-the-art high school facilities in the city.

Amidst their mixture of challenges and blessings, the Tigers play with a fierce love for the game and each other. “I like the group of girls this year. We’re good friends and we’ve learned to play well together,” said senior driver Katie Kegg. “Its so much fun,” said senior guard/driver Kate McCarthy. “It’s a great way to end the day at practice and at games.”

It goes without saying that this years team plays with an intensity that is sure to take them far. “It’s a tough game,” said Mina, “but all of our hard work is worth it.”





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