By Seamus Geoghegan
As the start of the women’s water polo season draws closer, fears that the team won’t have enough players to stay competitive increase.
The team, which had its inaugural season in 2015, has struggled to recruit players for its 2021 season, currently donning nine student-athletes. The sport requires seven players in the pool per team and an incredible amount of stamina and endurance. This leaves members of the team like sophomore Emma Ayala worried.
“I think that if we have just the right amount of players [to compete], we’ll just not have any substitutes, which will be pretty hard,” Ayala said. “I remember when we would play a team, and they wouldn’t have subs, we’d think, ‘Oh, it’s okay! They don’t have subs; they’ll get tired!’ when we had a lot of players. Now it’s just kind of funny thinking, ‘Wow, that’s gonna be us now.‘”
Without a full roster, the team is limited both in players and experience, leaving sophomore Melanie Beavan-Szabo concerned with the experience gap which currently exists in the squad.
“I know we have at least enough players to play in a game, but it will be difficult,” Beavan-Szabo said. “Everyone’s stamina levels are different, and our experience levels are different, so it will be difficult, to say the least.”
Beavan-Szabo, who started playing with the team in 2019, is still hopeful that the side can continue building together despite what it’s currently lacking.
“If we can get the entire team together regularly for every practice, we can all do the drill sets together, and build our strength together and improve our passing,” Beavan-Szabo said. “If you’re not there, you’re not gonna learn. If we can get a consistent number of players in the pool, that would be fantastic.”
Consistency in practice is desperately needed for the team who had limited access to the pool due to COVID-19, practicing mainly on dryland.
“We’ve got some weights, and we’ve been doing some strength training,” Beavan-Szabo said. “The coaches have tried really hard to get us access to the pool.”
Despite wanting to play more games, the squad is still thankful for what the team has meant to them during the COVID-19 lockdowns.
“It really has been a fantastic outlet for everyone during COVID,” Beavan-Szabo said. “A community where we all care about each other and improve together has really been really special to me during COVID, and we’ve been very lucky.”
“Participating in any sport or being on a team is a whole different experience,” Ayala said. “You learn to be really mentally tough and disciplined, which can really pay off later on in the future.”
Even with a limited squad, the season will continue for the Rams, and the team is preparing for its next game versus De Anza College on Sept. 10 at 3 p.m.