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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Women’s water polo falls at home

By Marcus Eagan

The Grinnell Women’s Water Polo team hosted the “Heartland Crossover,” the Heartland Conference’s annual tournament, to kick off the season last weekend at the PEC. Despite posting a 1-3 record—with two of those losses forfeited—the captains appear optimistic about the season.
“We are in the Heartland Division, or basically the ‘Midwest Division,’ and we had all eight teams from the division here [at Grinnell] this [last] weekend,” Andrea Leiser ’11 said.
The Heartland Division’s eight teams are Carleton College (Northfield, Minn.), Illinois State (Normal, Ill.), Lindenwood, (St. Charles, Mo.), Iowa State University (Ames, Iowa), St. Mary’s (Winona, Minn.), Washington University (St. Louis, Mo.) and Grinnell.
Leiser, one of the team’s co-captains, is pleased with the progress the team is making. But the team has one major obstacle: the club team needs more players.
While several teams on campus, like swimming, volleyball or cross-country, have gigantic teams, as a club, the Water Polo team has difficulty keeping numbers up. As a result, the Women’s Water Polo team is happy to have any player that they can get.
“All of our teammates are valuable assets to the team,” Carolyn Wright ’11, the team’s other co-captain and offensive hole set, said. “They’re necessary because this year we have a small team…and we need everyone.”
This year’s team is smaller than last year’s team and even smaller than expected heading into this season. In fact, the team barely has enough Black Sheep—the team’s name for themselves—for a substitution.
“Our team has gotten downsized [during the year] so we only have eight people, and you need seven to compete,” Wright said.
The Black Sheep, indeed, graduated five seniors last year, and it is difficult to say whether the drain in experience or numbers was a bigger loss.
“This year is going to be hard because last year we graduated five seniors, and four were on our starting lineup,” Leiser said. “So that really puts us at a disadvantage because a lot of people have to fill those positions.”
Another factor contributing to the player shortage, though, is that no new students, aside from Lindsay Schwartz ’13 have joined the team. Schwartz swims for Grinnell Swimming and Diving, and is a southpaw—an attribute in high demand for the team.
“[Lindsey] is also the only left-handed player on the team, and its kind of nice to have one of those,” Leiser said.
The Black Sheep’s small size could prevent the team from being very competitive this year. However, one benefit of the lack of players, though, is that all of this year’s players will get a lot of in-game experience.
“Since we are smaller and we know we are not going to win conference, we are trying to build on the basic skills to develop a more refined sense of the game,” Leiser said. “Some of the girls on the team hardly saw any playing time last year, but this weekend they played whole games. You can imagine how much that would improve you as a player.”
Wright encourages anyone who wants to try the sport, or even “just to practice” with the team, to come out. The team practices on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays at the PEC, from 4:30 to 6:00 p.m.

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