Seniors swim along

Water Polo celebrates their senior night after win 10-5 against Olympian

William Maywood, Section Editor

The five graduating members of the senior team huddle up to take a picture after winning their final regular season game 10-5 and being crowned as league champions. (William Maywood)

On a warm night on Oct. 27, a strong season by the boys’ water polo team was capped off by a joyous senior night, winning the league title. Unfortunately, it was also the last regular game for five seniors. However, with the end of the season came a positive way to celebrate the graduating players.

This season is the culmination of years of hard work as the team struggled when these seniors were underclassmen. The last two years are a different story with drastic improvement capped off this year by the team winning their division in this year’s League title.

“I’ve been playing for three years and looking at all the past seniors and their seniors, it’s just crazy that I’m here and I’m experiencing the senior night, my first years were a struggle and now we played so much better and it’s just crazy,”four spot and senior Christian Gutierrez said.

“This season was crazy and it was really fun. It felt a lot better than my other years because my first two years weren’t that great. Last year was a big improvement, but this year was something completely different, winning so many more games. This year felt so much better,” Forward and senior Mario Gonzales said.

With the seniors graduating, water polo remains competitive especially with the next crop of underclassmen preparing to take the reins from the upperclassmen. They’ve put an emphasis this year on helping the underclassmen improve and be able to hopefully replace some of the lost production and each player’s contribution.

“[I improved in] getting to know these younger underclassmen, but I’ve focused on helping them in getting more consistent game in and game out for our season and it’s rewarding to finally be a graduating senior and see them take the next step in front of me,” Four Spot and senior Christian Gutierrez said. 

For the seniors, their journey came full circle in that position not too long ago, with upperclassmen graduating and leaving them the responsibility to continue the team’s success. They hope to be able to leave the underclassmen in a good position to further improve and succeed in their games. 

“I hope they keep getting better and that more of the boys start doing year-round water polo so that we’re competitive with all the teams throughout the county,” Gutierrez said. “It’s crazy, seeing all the past seniors and seeing how they passed it on to me and now I’m passing it on to them. I’m in this position now and I hope they can take it on and get a good [California Interscholastic Federation (CIF)] CIF ranking.” 

Boys’ water polo coach Betty Alexander was a critical element in the success of this team. Throughout the season, she was developing and guiding the players who were new to the team and had no prior water polo experience. In doing so, she instilled her passion for water polo into the players who plan to play throughout high school to college level. 

“[Alexander] helped me alot because when I came in as a freshman I was really bad [at water polo]. If it wasn’t because of her, I wouldn’t be where I am today water polo wise. She helped me a lot and she’s a really good coach,” Gonzales said.

Besides teaching the athletes the fundamentals and tactics, Alexander puts an emphasis on conditioning and practice to better prepare her players. As a result, this allows them to be in better condition, as well to be durable during the game.They also implement their tactics and game plan during practice for each game.  The players condition as a way of practicing and to implement their tactics and game strategy for each game. 

“I think I conditioned them well. They said they did more conditioning with me than the other teams are doing. That’s good because our players can go all four quarters without a break,” Alexander said. “So conditioning, we worked a lot on tactics like gameplays and when [and] when not to do something. As far as my input, it’s basically me encouraging them to do better everyday.” 

Watching the seniors grow over the years, Alexander forms a great bond with some of her players. Though she is sad to see them go, Alexander is thrilled to see what they have accomplished in their time at BVH and is glad to see them move into a new chapter of their lives. 

“I definitely miss the seniors who played for me for four years, we do end up getting pretty close. [A] couple of them end up going to Southwestern [College], where I also coach, so I still get to see them progress as water polo players,” Alexander said. “After the seniors graduate, most of them come back to visit with me on a regular basis. I’m proud of them and I’m going to miss them. I hope that they aren’t strangers.”

For the team this marked the end for their regular season, as they now prepare for CIF. CIF as for many teams will be a challenge, but they are expected to do well after winning the league title. 

“I’m 99% sure we’re going to go to CIF. We are third ranked currently and the two teams that are ranked above us, they look like they are beatable teams,” Alexander said.

As for many players, knowing they are playing in their final season is undoubtedly a mixture of emotions. For the seniors in particular, there are a lot of memories for them to look fondly back on, considering the transformation that has occurred in the team. 

“It’s sad because I hadn’t realized this might be my last water polo game here, but  I had a really fun four years. Though we had a lot of downs, we had a lot of ups. Which was nice ending with a win and us being league champs because of that it definitely makes it feel alot better than it otherwise would,” Gonzales said.