University of Idaho water polo holds first home game in over two years – The Argonaut
The pool was glassy. There was not a ripple in sight. But then Jerry Garcia blew over the speakers and the water polo players jumped into the pool at the UI Swimming Center.
The first whistle sounds. The water flew. The hands were shaking. So began the first home game for the University of Idaho Water Polo Club in over two years.
At the Olympic level, water polo can be a brutal game, as it is commonly described as water rugby. This game was much more relaxed. The skill level on the club ranges from complete beginner to the most advanced. The club does not have a coach, so training is usually led by the more experienced player. Paul Tietz, a graduate student and club officer from Idaho, said everyone on the team was just there to have fun. It was not a very competitive or high stakes environment.
“I had never played water polo until this year and I am so happy to have joined the club,” said Jo Rodzinka, a freshman at the club. “I’m having a blast every game and looking forward to the next one. ”
On December 11, the club hosted Central Washington University. The teams were uneven, as CWU had already had a final week and only brought in five players. The Vandals loaned them four of their 14 players.
The match also did not have a referee. Ethan Berger, a CWU player, stepped up. He said it was originally meant to be a more competitive game, but the main focus was just to come and play.
“Even though it’s just in, like, a relaxed setting, as long as we’re in the water – that’s what matters to me,” Berger said.
While this might not be the most serious of competitions, she was still active.
The players swam the ball in the pool from start to finish. They were sticking their heads out of the water and looking for a teammate or an opening in the goal. They shot and the ball darted towards the blue tarpaulin of the goal. A smiling goalkeeper would reach out for the ball as it hits the goal or sinks into the water below.
Between the goals, the sighs and the puffs of the players echoed in the room. They were all going to take a breath. Then Berger whistled and the battle for the ball continued.
“It’s a lot of swimming, and when you’re not swimming you have to swim in place,” Tietz said. “So in between that and pivoting all the time, turning your head and looking at the ball, then trying to throw it… it’s really easy to get out of steam.”
The final whistle sounded. The Vandals won 16-9. The teams got out of the water and shook hands in front of some jubilant supporters in the stands.
With some time to spare, the teams jumped into the pool and decided to play something else. Central Washington suggested they play something they often do during practice. The players paired up and all tried to score a goal. No one followed the score.
Time passed and the water polo players were still in the pool, laughing and fighting for the ball.
“How long are you going to continue?” Antonio Sencion, a UI club player, said from the sidelines.
Someone by the pool shouted, “I don’t know.” After all, they booked it until 3:00 p.m.
The teams finally decided to stop and they got out of the pool. They put the hallways back into the pool and put the room back together. The pool had become calm again. Jerry Garcia was nowhere to be heard and there wasn’t a ripple in sight.
Cody Roberts can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @CodyRobReports