Decision to move the water polo season too early?

Decision to move the water polo season too early?

Kaurina Sidhu

  After a devastating end to the boy’s swim and dive season in March, the boy’s water polo team was left wondering if another season would be cut short.  As the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) weighed the options of whether or not to run fall sports, the Michigan High School Water Polo Association (MHSWPA) made the decision to move the boys’ water polo season to the spring.

   Many were upset that there wouldn’t be a season in the fall, but after a while, they realized it was for the better. “It was a little different not having water polo in the fall, but I understand why they made the decision to move the season to the spring. On top of that, it gave us the fall to condition and train for swim season,” Sr. Alex Boersema said. Like Boersema, many others were disappointed but realized it was for the best and know they will have a better season in the spring.

   MHSAA ultimately decided to continue with sports as planned, making adaptations to the new COVID-19 orders.  Most fall sports practices continued in hopes of changes being made to allow for competition. Men’s soccer and football, girl’s volleyball, and girl’s swimming/diving were uncertain of what their season would hold, but would still continue to practice and had hope for a regular season. At the beginning of September, these sports were given the green light. Why did the MHSWPA decide water polo could not play? As the fall sports seasons come to an end, was the MHSWPA decision called too early, or was it justified?

    Many boys were surprised by how early MHSWPA canceled the fall season. “I think that it was canceled too early, but I think we all knew it was coming since we didn’t have a lot of conditioning,” said Sr. Logan Elms. However, the players are making the best of the situation and continuing to prepare for their season.

   Water polo is still having practices to stay in shape and prepare for their season this spring. Like all other sports though some changes had to be made. Sr. Josh Rottier says their practices are different than normal. “We cannot guard each other at practice,” Rottier said. 

   Since water polo is a contact sport, guarding the opposing player is an important part of the game. Typically players keep the opposing athletes in the line of sight by resting a hand on them so they can anticipate the next move, this is known as guarding. It’s important that the opposing person the player is guarding understands that every pass or shot will be challenged. This causes pressure on the opponent, typically resulting in mistakes.

    COVID-19 has impacted the boys who swim and play water polo. A large majority of swimmers play water polo in the offseason to stay conditioned for their winter swim season. Last year multiple boy’s swim teams were not able to go to their state meet. As COVID-19 hit in March, boy’s swimming came to a halting stop as all sports were canceled. The season was canceled just hours before the meet was going to start and many teams were already on their way. Now, their water polo season is moved, and as COVID-19 numbers continue to rise, the question of whether or not they will have a season looms overhead.   

   An often forgotten impact of moving the water polo season is the impact on college recruiting. “I am considering swimming in college, and since our state meet was canceled last spring, it has made it more difficult, especially since I was only tapering for the state meet, which left me with unrepresentative times for the season,” Sr. Michael MacDonald from Grand Haven said. Michael plays water polo and swims. Water polo will also be hard to recruit because the senior boys’ last season won’t happen until March and most college decisions have already been made by then. 

   The boys still remain hopeful for a normal season this spring. “I have hope for a normal season in the spring. I think we could have a vaccine by then, so we will see a lot of things change. But, if we have learned anything, everything can change at a moment’s notice so we will see. I am hopeful,” said Thomas MacDonald from Grand Haven.

   Boersema also agrees that he feels there will be some form of a normal season this spring. “We will likely have masks on when we are not playing and may have limited spectators,” said Boersema. 

   COVID-19 is a virus that has impacted everyone around the world. Many adjustments have been made to high school sports to allow our athletes to compete.  Physically,  mentally, and academically students benefit from athletics.  Hopefully, the boys are able to have some sort of normal season in the spring. They have worked hard throughout their high school years, and deserve to enjoy their final year.