Underclassmen-Led Water Polo Team Treads Their Way to State

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Underclassmen-Led Water Polo Team Treads Their Way to State

Photo courtesy of the Chamblee Water Polo team website.

Photo courtesy of the Chamblee Water Polo team website.

Photo courtesy of the Chamblee Water Polo team website.

Photo courtesy of the Chamblee Water Polo team website.

James Hardy, Staff Writer

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Chamblee Water Polo, the school’s youngest athletic team, will take to the pool in the Georgia High School Water Polo State Championship at Dynamo, Chamblee’s local swim club, the weekend of September 28 and 29. 17 teams will compete in the D2/D3 tournament, in which CCHS intends to field two teams.

Despite playing its first official season last year, the team has made significant strides in growth, both in size and ability. Sophomore team captain Brian Roberts, who joined the club in its infancy two years ago, decided to try out on a whim.

“I started in the fall of 2017,” said Roberts. “There were ads in the middle school, hanging up on the walls everywhere about water polo at the high school. And I didn’t have a sport to do that year, so I was like, ‘You know what? I’m going to try water polo.’”

Despite his age, Roberts is a goalkeeper and team captain, both of which are major leadership positions for the team.

“As the goalie, you’re usually kind of commanding people what to do, because you can see the whole field and everyone else is busy looking for the ball or something,” said Roberts. “I am the team captain, as one of the senior members, too, so as the captain [and] the goalie. I do a lot of encouraging the team and reviewing with the team and just strengthening them, hopefully.”

Due to the continued success of the middle school ad campaign that recruited Roberts, the team’s players are almost exclusively in 7th, 8th, and 9th grade, with few exceptions, Roberts being one of them. The lack of senior players led to him being named team captain for the 2019 season. In his opinion, there are both advantages and disadvantages to this young core of players.

“Currently, it’s kind of affecting team because they are not very mature, but it’s important to be mature in the sport,” said Roberts. “So I hope that we are helping them grow and become more responsible because we have so many young people. I hope that all these young people grow and become great leaders.”

Freshman center defender Madeline Murphy echoed Roberts’ sentiments about maturity.

“Everyone [needs to work on] coming together and doing everything they need to like cleaning up [and] being more responsible,” said Murphy.

Head Coach Igor Molina agrees that mental fortitude is something the team should try to improve before the tournament.

“They need to be more focused, because they tend to lose their concentration when they have a bad start, [or a] bad beginning,” said Molina. “They forget almost everything. They need to be concentrated on the start. What they have learned over and over, they can’t forget that.”

As a former Venezuelan National Team member, Coach Molina has extensive experience in water polo so when the team faced challenges in the beginning of the season, they were able to be worked through.

“[Chamblee has been] really good,” said Molina. “Well, when I arrived here it was a challenge because I found different levels in the players. People who swim very well but who did not handle the ball very well, people who handled the ball very well but are not good swimmers, so the main challenge was to find the right kind of training to enhance those skills [and] make them better.”

After toiling in the pool for two long months in hopes of  growing stronger, the Chamblee water polo team is ready to compete. Molina has high expectations for the tournament.

“The main goal is to be in the finals in both leagues, The Second Division League [D2] and the Third Division League [D3],” said Molina. “That’s our main goal.”

Some of the players, such as Roberts, have set the bar even higher for themselves.

“In all honesty, I would love to win the tournament, which I think we have a good chance of doing because we’re second in Division Two right now,” said Roberts. “But I am scared for us to move up to Division One, because I don’t think we’re fit for Division One yet.”

Others, including Freshman Madeline Murphy, have similar goals, but with a slight twist.

“I’m hoping to get top five,” said Murphy. “And to beat [Saint] Pius again.”