Off the deep end: New water polo team competes in their first competition

Water+polo+poses+for+team+photo+at+competition+in+Round+Rock.

Diana Aleman

Water polo poses for team photo at competition in Round Rock.

Katherine Dale, Staff Reporter

The smell of chlorine and the sounds of sharp whistles filled the air of the natatorium. Students packed the crystal clear water, trying to move swiftly through the pool and fight their way to the opposing team’s net with the ball. It was the Viper Water Polo teams’ first match of their very first season.

This year, the sport of water polo has been added to the school’s repertoire of athletic activities. Led by swimming coach Felix Gonzalez, the team competed in their first competition at Round Rock Aquatic Center on Sept. 9. The team strives to create more opportunities for students to finally get a chance to show their talent in a new sport, water polo. 

“I just hope that it [water polo] brings us all together and gives people who want to play a sport an opportunity to try something new,” sophomore captain, Aaron Gordon, said. 

The 2022-2023 school year is the first year that water polo is an officially sanctioned UIL sport. In previous years, students who wanted to pursue water polo had to do it through club water polo outside of school hours, and not in Viper Athletics. 

“I think in the prior years we played a little bit of animal ball and that kind of thing, which is kind of like water polo,” Gordon said, “then last year we actually had an official team through club water polo, which got a lot of people wanting to try it out this year. We talked to the coach and got a team together from there.”

Water polo is a physically demanding and brutal sport, it matches wrestling, soccer, and swimming as a fast-paced game. The main objective is to score as many points as possible on the other team’s goal, while maintaining the ball and fighting off aggressive opponents. Despite the intensity, students still found themselves having fun while playing. 

We are all super supportive of each other and help each other.” Junior swim captain Gabrielle Fowler said. “Boys cheer for the girls and we cheer for the boys; we all just want each other to have fun and do our best.” 

Water polo got their first chance to show off their abilities last Friday. The boys team won both of their two matches, while the girls team suffered one loss. Both teams hold their head up high and remain patient, it’s only  the early stages for Viper water polo. 

“For [us], water polo isn’t nerve wracking; we all just do it for fun. It’s an extension of the swim team,” Fowler said, “so it’s super exciting to finally play a sport that you work as a team on and not individually.”  

High school water polo will enter their first round of UIL competition, Bi-District, on October 11, 2022. Teams all over the state work hard for a spot during these matches to compete in the state championships during late October. 

I love cheering for and watching the boys play and they do the same for us. Most of the team had no prior idea of what water polo is, so we all just have fun and there’s no anxiety.” said Fowler. 

For members of the water polo team, having a new aquatic sport on campus provides them with a greater possibility to showcase their talent in swimming. Last season, Viper boys swim took 14th at state alongside the women’s team who placed 22nd, respectively. 

“I’ve known some of these kids since they were maybe 10 or 11 years old and watching them grow in and out of the water has been amazing,” water polo and swimming Coach Felix Gonzalez said, “when they come together it’s like an explosion.”

This year, the water polo team focuses on experimenting with uncharted waters. The student athletes who make up the newest Viper sport will hopefully be trendsetters in a long legacy of Vandegrift water polo. Most importantly however, their passion for swim and water polo and their dedication to creating a positive team culture is unmatched. 

“I think that my main objective is to focus on practice and the process and then just go to games. Play and have fun, enjoy it.”