Water Polo Closes Season 6-9

The team’s seniors celebrate their final season at senior night on Sept. 18 versus North Springs High School. The Knights won the meet 5-4. Pictured left to right: Robert Cushman, John O’Brien, Alan Tapper, Dillion Carroll, Harrison Saini and Blake Maner. Photo: Fred Assaf

In October, the water polo team wrapped up their season with a record of 6-9, finishing eighth in Division 1 and ninth overall in the state tournament.  This year’s team had a difficult task in filling the shoes of former player and two time league MVP, Andrew Jenkins ’19.

The team this year had to learn to develop not only more options in scoring but to also control the game better with a more balanced attack and good defense,” said head coach John Ague. “We started out a little slow but really came on strong during the second half of the season.”

The team began the season 1-4, but they finished strong with three back-to-back wins. “I’d say that my favorite part about our team this year was our perseverance; it provided for a good team spirit,” said junior captain Amalia Little.

Both middle school and upper school water polo teams at Pace are a club sport. “Even though water polo is a club sport, I treat it like I do with any varsity or JV sports,” said Coach Ague. “We practice every day and besides weekday games, one team or both teams play almost every Saturday and or Sunday throughout the season.” While Mr. Ague coaches as though water polo is a varsity sport, the club title means that the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) does not endorse the sport.

“This means the league is less funded, and though this does not really affect our games or schedules, it affects the support we receive,” said Little. “Our tournaments and games do not feel as official, I’d say, and we lose a lot of student support.” The Pace athletic department is taking strides to improve the inclusion of water polo into fall sports at Pace. They have started to do this by having the team walk during varsity fall sports recognition. 

This year’s team was led by Little and senior captain John O’Brien, along with seniors Dillion Carroll, Robert Cushman, Blake Maner, Harrison Saini and Alan Tapper. “As a senior I felt like it was my responsibility to keep the underclassmen engaged and make sure that they were having fun,” said Saini. “I wanted them to enjoy the sport so that they could come back next year and continue the team’s legacy.”

Along with being a captain, Little is also the only girl on the co-ed team. “Being the only girl on our team, specifically, has had less of an effect on me than playing other teams has,” said Little. “Luckily the community we have here at Pace is generally more accepting, but when we play other teams, I notice opposing players treat me differently, and sort of push me aside, or don’t acknowledge that I could possibly be just as good in the water as a boy.”

Along with the returning players, the team welcomed four freshmen to the team. “I initially joined the team in seventh grade after swimming in the winter and playing soccer in the spring,” said freshman Carter Freudenstein. “I decided to try a fall sport and water polo was a perfect combination of my passions.” Joining Freudenstein are freshmen Aidan Carroll, David Grice and Barrett Hight. 

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